Can my employer require repayment of all tuition reimbursements

I worked for an employer for 18 months and during that time I received tuition reimbursement. In my original offer of employment letter it stated "Please be advised that any educational fees reimbursed to you would be clawed back should you leave within a year of said fees being paid" The company made reimbursements payments to me throughout my employment for part time graduate classes I was taking and included the reimbursements within my bi-weekly check.

There is nothing in my employee handbook that addresses tuition reimbursement as not all employees are offered it. I believe I was but my salary was adjusted accordingly.

It is my contention that I would only owe back reimbursements which I received within the past 12 months. Would you agree ?

1 answer  |  asked Feb 10, 2024 6:01 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
The isolated sentence appears to say that. But the best option is to either ask your HR department or whoever offered that to you for clarification or retain an employment lawyer to review the entire offer letter and your employer's policies. Policies may change and there may have been some specific reason why your employer agreed to such reimbursement. Maybe there was discussion of growth in the company, maybe you relocated or sold a home and relied on what your employer promised. Or maybe you suspect or have been notified of an anticipated reduction in force. All of these possibilities could impact what happens and generally, everything is negotiable if you do so in advance. Usually an agreement is an agreement and there must have been some special circumstances because most employers try to avoid lawsuits. And disparate treatment is a real claim. They offer a benefit to you but not to other salaried or hourly comparable positions. Employers should not favor your potential promotion with higher education benefits but deny promotion potential to other protected classes; i.e. ages or races. Benefits should be similar for all full-time salaried employees or for hourly employees or other classifications unless good, non-discriminatory reasons exist which do not result in probable disparate treatment or impact.

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  Feb 11, 2024 2:53 PM [EST]

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