How quickly do I have to pay back relocation expenses?

I relocated for my position and my company paid relocation expenses. I have worked there for over one year, but less than two years, so according to the agreement, if I leave before the two-year mark, I will owe 50% of the expenses. My boss is driving everyone toward the brink of a nervous breakdown, and HR hasn't/won't do anything about it, so I'm considering leaving. I signed the agreement, so I fully intend to pay back the 50% I owe if I decide to leave. My question is, who gets to dictate the terms of that repayment? The agreement I signed does not specify a timeline in any way. When I spoke to HR, I was told that the best they would be able to do (speaking hypothetically for now) would be a three-month payment plan. This would be very difficult for me, and I was hoping for a year. Legally, is there anything they can do to enforce a set period of time if I never agreed to that? In other words, if I say I can pay them back within a year, and make payments accordingly, would I get into legal trouble because they want it in three months?

1 answer  |  asked Feb 28, 2019 8:05 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
I cannot answer your question without seeing the reimbursement agreement. However, if it is silent as to duration of repayment, the repayment period is probably immediately upon triggering the repayment obligation. In other words, there is no payment plan.

However, you should be able to drive a better bargain than a three month repayment period. If you refused to pay anything and the company had to take you to court, it would take the company at least a few months if the amount is under $6,000, and potentially much longer if the amount is greater than that and the company had to go to municipal or common pleas court. In addition, the company should agree to a repayment plan to avoid the costs of obtaining a judgement.

For these same reasons, if you and the company reach no agreement but you send what you can each month, the company will probably choose not to go to court until you stop paying.

Finally, consider arguing to HR that you have no obligation to repay them at all since the manager from hell is forcing you to quit, which legally speaking would be the same an an involuntary termination. The legal concept is a "constructive discharge." That is, since you were forced to quit, you can claim that you were, legally speaking, terminated and therefore do not owe anything on the tuition agreement. If the company drags you to court, you should argue that as your defense.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Mar 1, 2019 12:12 PM [EST]

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