Author Topic: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance  (Read 34734 times)

jeromedawg

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Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« on: January 14, 2016, 04:05:52 PM »
Hey guys,

Was wondering if there's any recourse in my situation.

I left my former company on December 30th 2015. I had taken a course earlier in the year and had received tuition assistance/reimbursement for it back in August of 2015. Policy states that if you leave the company within a year, they have the right to bill you for the reimbursement.

Now, the company went through a round of layoffs in late September *after* the reimbursement was paid out to me, and they ended up giving me advanced termination notice for June 2016. During all the turmoil, this new job opportunity came up and the offer fell into my lap - I decided it was a no-brainer for me to take.

Today I just received a Fedex-overnighted envelope which included a notice to pay back the tuition assistance I received back in August along with the key agreement and policy that I e-signed.
Do I have any rights to fight this? Or am I SOL since I signed the agreement in accordance with policy and should I just suck it up and pay it back? The situation I was in was sort of a forced-hand type of situation considering I was given advanced notice, but I'm not sure if that's any or enough ground to invalidate their claim to pay back the reimbursement within their policy.

If I do end up paying them back, wouldn't I also be able to write this off as an expense? But how would that work if this was all back in 2015 and my payment back to them would be in 2016?

Had I known about the layoffs and advance termination, I likely wouldn't have done tuition assistance. Really poor timing I suppose...

Any advice here?

EDIT: I also wanted to point out that along with the advanced termination notice I was offered a hefty retention bonus + severance to stay through June 2016, all together this would have been worth way more than the tuition assistance money they're asking me to repay them (to give you an idea, it's $4600 that I'm "obligated to pay")
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 04:23:12 PM by jplee3 »

GrOW

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2016, 04:23:34 PM »
Yes to your questions.

Yes you have a right to fight it.
Yes you may be SOL if the company takes a hard line since it seems they are within their rights to claim repayment.

If the company or HR department is inflexible, not much you can do so let's consider that they are human and will listen. You could take the angle that the company initiated an end to your employment and only then did you seek other employment. You could ask if it was an error or something kicked out automatically when someone checked or didn't check a box.

Either way, if you get a no the first time, I would try to reach someone else a few days later. This seems that it could be subjective and all you need is someone to say yes once.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2016, 04:56:11 PM »
Yes to your questions.

Yes you have a right to fight it.
Yes you may be SOL if the company takes a hard line since it seems they are within their rights to claim repayment.

If the company or HR department is inflexible, not much you can do so let's consider that they are human and will listen. You could take the angle that the company initiated an end to your employment and only then did you seek other employment. You could ask if it was an error or something kicked out automatically when someone checked or didn't check a box.

Either way, if you get a no the first time, I would try to reach someone else a few days later. This seems that it could be subjective and all you need is someone to say yes once.

Thanks! I'm drafting up an email right now requesting for them to waive this whole request in light of the circumstances. I wonder if I should cc my former director on the email as well, or if that's kind of awkward.... I didn't really have much of a relationship with her but she seemed reasonable when I spoke with her. She even promised to pay me out the quarterly bonus after I left (of course, this was all over email, which I forwarded to my personal email haha)...
There's a generic email address they ask to send email to with questions but there are also names of HR people on the letter. They didn't include their email addresses but I know the schema and could easily guess what they are and CC them (should I?)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 04:59:47 PM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2016, 05:11:10 PM »
Here's the email I've been drafting up - please feel free to add recommendations:

"I received a letter today, January 13 2016, signed "XXXX XXXXXX", regarding tuition assistance I applied for and received payment for in August of 2015. The letter indicates that I am obligated to reimburse XXX, in full, for the expenses incurred (in the amount of $XXXX) for the course I took (XXXXXXXXXX).

I would like to request for your consideration to waive this request in light of the circumstances I was placed in after the reimbursement had already been paid out in August.

To summarize, on 9/24/2015, my former division (XXXXXXXXX) underwent a significant round of immediate lay-offs in addition to multiple employees being given advanced termination notices. I was one of the employees who received an advanced termination notice with a target release date of June 23rd 2016. Along with this notice, I received an offer for a significant retention bonus along with a separation/severance package.

With that in mind, please consider that I have saved XXX well over the amount I'm being asked to recompense. Factoring in the $XXXXX retention bonus + whatever the terms of the separation/severance package were that I forfeited upon my voluntary termination, it surely was of benefit (and exceeds the tuition assistance amount I'm being asked to pay) to XXX. Furthermore, I likely would not have actively sought out other employment if XXX did not give me advanced termination notice - frankly, I was quite happy in my role.

Taking into full consideration the situation I was in and the options that I were given, I would kindly ask for this matter to be reconsidered and for the request of reimbursement to be waived."

bridget

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2016, 05:41:49 PM »
Here's the email I've been drafting up - please feel free to add recommendations:

"I received a letter today, January 13 2016, signed "XXXX XXXXXX", regarding tuition assistance I applied for and received payment for in August of 2015. The letter indicates that I am obligated to reimburse XXX, in full, for the expenses incurred (in the amount of $XXXX) for the course I took (XXXXXXXXXX).

I would like to request for your consideration to waive this request in light of the circumstances I was placed in after the reimbursement had already been paid out in August.

To summarize, on 9/24/2015, my former division (XXXXXXXXX) underwent a significant round of immediate lay-offs in addition to multiple employees being given advanced termination notices. I was one of the employees who received an advanced termination notice with a target release date of June 23rd 2016. Along with this notice, I received an offer for a significant retention bonus along with a separation/severance package.

With that in mind, please consider that I have saved XXX well over the amount I'm being asked to recompense. Factoring in the $XXXXX retention bonus + whatever the terms of the separation/severance package were that I forfeited upon my voluntary termination, it surely was of benefit (and exceeds the tuition assistance amount I'm being asked to pay) to XXX. Furthermore, I likely would not have actively sought out other employment if XXX did not give me advanced termination notice - frankly, I was quite happy in my role.

Taking into full consideration the situation I was in and the options that I were given, I would kindly ask for this matter to be reconsidered and for the request of reimbursement to be waived."

I'm not sure I'd include this. It sounds like you're arguing that they were offering the separation/severance package out of the goodness of their hearts, which you generously chose not to take them up on. I don't think they'll see it like this. They saw that as an important tool to keep you until June 2016, which they presumably had a business reason to do. I'm guessing they will think that the predicament you have put them in by leaving earlier than that costs them a lot more than the retention/severance (otherwise, they wouldn't have offered it). You leaving now is a net loss to them, if they are at all competent at running a business. 

I'd probably cc: your former director. She might be able to help, but keeping her in the loop (if she has any power in this situation) can't hurt. She can't pull for you if she doesn't know what's happening.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2016, 05:51:44 PM »
Here's the email I've been drafting up - please feel free to add recommendations:

"I received a letter today, January 13 2016, signed "XXXX XXXXXX", regarding tuition assistance I applied for and received payment for in August of 2015. The letter indicates that I am obligated to reimburse XXX, in full, for the expenses incurred (in the amount of $XXXX) for the course I took (XXXXXXXXXX).

I would like to request for your consideration to waive this request in light of the circumstances I was placed in after the reimbursement had already been paid out in August.

To summarize, on 9/24/2015, my former division (XXXXXXXXX) underwent a significant round of immediate lay-offs in addition to multiple employees being given advanced termination notices. I was one of the employees who received an advanced termination notice with a target release date of June 23rd 2016. Along with this notice, I received an offer for a significant retention bonus along with a separation/severance package.

With that in mind, please consider that I have saved XXX well over the amount I'm being asked to recompense. Factoring in the $XXXXX retention bonus + whatever the terms of the separation/severance package were that I forfeited upon my voluntary termination, it surely was of benefit (and exceeds the tuition assistance amount I'm being asked to pay) to XXX. Furthermore, I likely would not have actively sought out other employment if XXX did not give me advanced termination notice - frankly, I was quite happy in my role.

Taking into full consideration the situation I was in and the options that I were given, I would kindly ask for this matter to be reconsidered and for the request of reimbursement to be waived."

A few suggested edits. I wouldn't get too much into the money they saved by not giving you a retention bonus, they likely consider that an unrelated matter.

"I received a letter today, January 13 2016, signed "XXXX XXXXXX", regarding tuition assistance I applied for and received payment for in August of 2015. The letter indicates that I am obligated to reimburse XXX, in full, for the expenses incurred (in the amount of $XXXX) for the course I took (XXXXXXXXXX).

On 9/24/2015, my former division (XXXXXXXXX) underwent a significant round of immediate lay-offs in addition to multiple employees being given advanced termination notices. I was one of the employees who received an advanced termination notice with a target release date of June 23rd 2016.

I am writing to request you waive your request for reimbursement. While I did leave (company)prior to my layoff date, the reason why I left (company) was because my position was being eliminated. Asking for repayment under these circumstances seems unfair, because my departure was not my choice. I was happy at (company) and was not looking to leave prior to the layoff announcement.

Taking into full consideration the situation I was in and the options that I were given, I would kindly ask for this matter to be reconsidered and for the request of reimbursement to be waived. (Company) treated me fairly during my employment and I hope that your spirit of fairness will continue even as we are no longer working together.

sonjak

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2016, 06:24:14 PM »
I work in HR and we require repayment of tuition assistance in all employee-initiated terminations.  We would not do it for this circumstance, even if we could per policy.  This is kind of a d**k move on their part, IMO.  Sounds like leaving was the right decision.

Definitely agree with sending the email and I wouldn't include the piece about saving them money, it's irrelevant.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 09:25:31 PM »
Thanks all! I'm going to go with ShortInSeattle's revisions as those sound good to me and also factor in the other advice to leave the $$$ out of the equation here. It's entirely possible that my leaving within a year of tuition assistance triggered a formal process of printing out some canned paperwork and mailing it out. I'm gonna shoot the email out and see what happens.

Worst case, if they don't can I still write this off as an expense? And if so, would I do it for 2015 or 2016? Last thing I can think of is to check with my current employer and see if they'd be willing to help out - probably not as this would likely have been something to bring up during negotiation before accepting their offer (but I this was the last thing I was thinking about, if at all, during negotiations with them)

BlueHouse

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2016, 09:47:38 PM »
One other thing:  are you sure it wasn't called an advance termination and not an advanced termination?  It just sounds odd to call it advanced.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2016, 09:54:45 PM »
One other thing:  are you sure it wasn't called an advance termination and not an advanced termination?  It just sounds odd to call it advanced.

Hahaha good point! I think it is "advance termination" no "d" - I'll make that edit.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2016, 10:36:46 PM »
Well, I shot the email off. We'll see what they come back with... I'm somewhat doubtful.

former player

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 01:48:53 AM »
Your strongest point is that they were in any case going to terminate you in June 2016, which was before the year from August 2015 was up, so they had already made the decision that keeping you for at least a year after paying the tuition was something they were not going to require.

Your choice to go earlier is offset by not taking their offer of extra to get you to stay until June 2016, which makes it a side issue to the question of repayment.

GrOW

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2016, 04:51:46 AM »
Regarding the scenario that the employer denies your request and you have to repay, here is more tax opinion with some irs publication backup.

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch11.html. If the assistance was $5,250 or less, you should not have to worry about asking for an amended 2015 w-2.

With repayment, even in a different year, I believe that you are now free from the last rule under No Double Benefit Allowed section here - https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch06.html#en_US_2014_publink100025411 - and would be free to claim with the American opportunity or lifetime learning credit on your 2015 tax return, as long as your income does not disqualify you.

If all of this is true and you repay your employer prior to filing your 2015 tax return, I think you are in good shape for a tax credit. I would keep a copy of the employer assistance paperwork, proof of repayment, and craft an summary explanation letter with a simple table showing the math. That should suffice should the irs inquire.

If the same is true and for some reason you repay your employer after filing your 2015 tax return, you could file an amended 2015 return, ex. 1040X, for the tax credit.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 04:53:54 AM by Redcedar »

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2016, 08:51:49 AM »
Your strongest point is that they were in any case going to terminate you in June 2016, which was before the year from August 2015 was up, so they had already made the decision that keeping you for at least a year after paying the tuition was something they were not going to require.

Your choice to go earlier is offset by not taking their offer of extra to get you to stay until June 2016, which makes it a side issue to the question of repayment.

LOL, I briefly thought of this *after* having sent the email...DOH. Maybe if they come back and argue, I'll use it as a final argument to get them to realize their silliness. Of course, they may just come back and say "since it wouldn't have been *voluntary* either way, it doesn't matter" - but I think that would be a pretty weak counter-argument given the hard data.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2016, 12:33:25 PM »
I just got a response from the director of HR:

"Hello

I have conferred with both your HR Business Partner, XXXXXXX, and XXX's Legal team regarding your request.  Based on the fact that you chose to leave XXX voluntarily on December 30th, 2015 and XXX paid for you to attend the XXXXXXXXXX in July August, 2015, which was within one year of your termination date, you are indeed obligated to repay XXX $XXXX.XX that was spent for you to attend training.  Per our letter dated, Jan 13th, payment is expected on or before Feb. 10th.   Thank you."


Ughhhh... not sure if I should send them another response/request pointing out that my termination date would have been in June which kinda makes their policy look silly.

My new company offers tuition assistance but they probably aren't gonna retroactively reimburse me for a course I took elsewhere. I suppose I could ask...
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 12:47:01 PM by jplee3 »

AZDude

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2016, 12:56:55 PM »
Your only recourse would be arguing the "voluntary" point, but I dont see a happy ending there. Maybe look into the local law school and try to get some students to argue the case for you. Here they have a program set up where students will take simple cases for the experience. You could try it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2016, 01:00:00 PM »
Your only recourse would be arguing the "voluntary" point, but I dont see a happy ending there. Maybe look into the local law school and try to get some students to argue the case for you. Here they have a program set up where students will take simple cases for the experience. You could try it.

I'm pretty sure they've already overlooked everything I argued about regarding the layoffs and my advance termination notice - seems like they just brushed all that off regardless, so I'm not sure the "voluntary" argument would hold much ground for them.

Interesting, I'll maybe look into it and see if any local law schools might have that. Although, I'm not quite sure where to start with that - do I start looking around on forums? Or just call the school and ask if they have programs like that?

Not sure how involved I really want to get into the whole thing versus just making the payment and doing a tax write-off...
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 01:01:32 PM by jplee3 »

AZDude

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2016, 01:02:29 PM »
Honestly, no idea. I just know a family member who was in law school and she was part of a program like that. Argued lots of unemployment cases and other stuff like that. Maybe call the law school and see what they say?

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2016, 01:11:00 PM »
Honestly, no idea. I just know a family member who was in law school and she was part of a program like that. Argued lots of unemployment cases and other stuff like that. Maybe call the law school and see what they say?

Hmm, I'll do some research. I have a few friends who went to law school and have a mutual friend who is actually in law school now. Not sure if I know of anyone who focuses on employment/unemployment law. I wonder what extent of involvement would be required for something like this though - would it be officially considered a "case" that they end up taking to court, etc?

I wonder if it would be something in this arena (I live near UCI):
http://www.law.uci.edu/academics/real-life-learning/clinics/dfeh.html
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 01:12:49 PM by jplee3 »

AZDude

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2016, 01:18:54 PM »
Yeah, I think so. Give them a call and see what happens. Worst case is they tell you no and you pay the money.

Jack

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2016, 01:25:18 PM »
I'm pretty sure they've already overlooked everything I argued about regarding the layoffs and my advance termination notice - seems like they just brushed all that off regardless, so I'm not sure the "voluntary" argument would hold much ground for them.

Nevertheless, the same argument written on a lawyer's letterhead might suddenly become more persuasive.

I'd go with something like "you broke the agreement by laying me off which makes my departure non-voluntary. Whatever actions I took after that are immaterial."

(Note: I am neither a lawyer nor a superintelligent AI like Cathy.)

bridget

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2016, 01:32:54 PM »

Ughhhh... not sure if I should send them another response/request pointing out that my termination date would have been in June which kinda makes their policy look silly.

I think you can reasonably send this, but I wouldn't put a ton of hope into it.

My new company offers tuition assistance but they probably aren't gonna retroactively reimburse me for a course I took elsewhere. I suppose I could ask...

Same with this, although you'll obviously want to be more diplomatic/humble with your new employer than your old one, because you have a working relationship to preserve.

Honestly, no idea. I just know a family member who was in law school and she was part of a program like that. Argued lots of unemployment cases and other stuff like that. Maybe call the law school and see what they say?

Hmm, I'll do some research. I have a few friends who went to law school and have a mutual friend who is actually in law school now. Not sure if I know of anyone who focuses on employment/unemployment law. I wonder what extent of involvement would be required for something like this though - would it be officially considered a "case" that they end up taking to court, etc?

I wonder if it would be something in this arena (I live near UCI):
http://www.law.uci.edu/academics/real-life-learning/clinics/dfeh.html

I'm a lawyer (although I am obviously not YOUR lawyer, disclaimer). This ... doesn't really seem worth the phone call to me. It sounds like under the terms of the agreement, they can in fact require you to pay it back. It's a dick move under the circumstances, but I'm guessing there's no exception in the document you signed for dick moves. The most likely scenario is that the law students at UCI (or actually, their attorney advisor) would tell you sorry, you're out of luck.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2016, 02:11:05 PM »
I'm pretty sure they've already overlooked everything I argued about regarding the layoffs and my advance termination notice - seems like they just brushed all that off regardless, so I'm not sure the "voluntary" argument would hold much ground for them.

Nevertheless, the same argument written on a lawyer's letterhead might suddenly become more persuasive.

I'd go with something like "you broke the agreement by laying me off which makes my departure non-voluntary. Whatever actions I took after that are immaterial."

(Note: I am neither a lawyer nor a superintelligent AI like Cathy.)

I feel a response would end up being pretty useless based on what's already happened but I may try with your suggestion. Also, they may argue that "advance termination" and "immediate termination" are different and that I still left on voluntary terms. In fact, I'm pretty positive they'll argue that. I'll have to think if any of my lawyer friends would be open to doing me a favor (I've already asked favors from a couple of them in the past and I always feel weird asking anyone for favor where the favor is something relevant to their line of work)

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2016, 02:15:40 PM »

Ughhhh... not sure if I should send them another response/request pointing out that my termination date would have been in June which kinda makes their policy look silly.

I think you can reasonably send this, but I wouldn't put a ton of hope into it.

My new company offers tuition assistance but they probably aren't gonna retroactively reimburse me for a course I took elsewhere. I suppose I could ask...

Same with this, although you'll obviously want to be more diplomatic/humble with your new employer than your old one, because you have a working relationship to preserve.

Honestly, no idea. I just know a family member who was in law school and she was part of a program like that. Argued lots of unemployment cases and other stuff like that. Maybe call the law school and see what they say?

Hmm, I'll do some research. I have a few friends who went to law school and have a mutual friend who is actually in law school now. Not sure if I know of anyone who focuses on employment/unemployment law. I wonder what extent of involvement would be required for something like this though - would it be officially considered a "case" that they end up taking to court, etc?

I wonder if it would be something in this arena (I live near UCI):
http://www.law.uci.edu/academics/real-life-learning/clinics/dfeh.html

I'm a lawyer (although I am obviously not YOUR lawyer, disclaimer). This ... doesn't really seem worth the phone call to me. It sounds like under the terms of the agreement, they can in fact require you to pay it back. It's a dick move under the circumstances, but I'm guessing there's no exception in the document you signed for dick moves. The most likely scenario is that the law students at UCI (or actually, their attorney advisor) would tell you sorry, you're out of luck.


Thanks, yea I probably won't put much hope in them changing their minds at this point in time. I think even if a lawyer writes it up for me officially and sends it, it probably would just escalate to their legal dept and they'd come back with the same canned response but in lawyer-speak.

I guess I'll call the tuition assistance hotline with my new employer and see what, if anything, can be done. I'm pretty doubtful of this.

I ended up calling the UCI law school and left a short message. I'm also doubtful anything would really come of this too. 

Looks like I'll probably be SOL with all these options and end up having to write it off as an expense for 2015. Not great but not bad either I suppose. And yea, this definitely leaves a really bad taste in my mouth with my former employer. Up until now, I thought I would be open to going back if any really great opportunities came up. Now I'm not inclined at all.

BlueHouse

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2016, 02:22:45 PM »
My circumstances are a bit different, but the method might help you.  A former company was not going to pay me an incentive prize because I no longer worked for them.  I felt they owed it to me, but the terms were never really clear to begin with.  After a few rounds of back and forth with HR, I finally said (on the advice of a lawyer friend):  "My attorney asked you to explain in writing why you don't feel you owe me ...."

Perhaps something similar will work with you.  "Due to the notice of an imminent non-voluntary termination, I feel that the terms of our agreement were already broken.  Would you mind sending me something in writing explaining why the advance notice of termination wouldn't override and make invalid the tuition reimbursement agreement?  I'd like to share the information with my attorney." 

For the record, I think it's pretty crappy for a company to ask to be reimbursed for tuition assistance. 

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2016, 02:29:41 PM »
I would go with Jack's idea of a lawyer's legal heading for this one. Also make it clear that there was a reasonable expectation on both parties for continued employment, that they initially broke.

beltim

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2016, 02:35:26 PM »
Ughhhh... not sure if I should send them another response/request pointing out that my termination date would have been in June which kinda makes their policy look silly.

But.. you didn't stay until June.  So why would that matter?

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2016, 02:43:53 PM »
If you had stayed until June, then as part of the package deal they were giving you, they were going to forgive the tuition if I understand it correctly. But you chose to leave early. So asking to waive the tuition because you were going to be laid off anyway is like asking for a prorated part of that bonus they were going to give you. Sure, they could have been nice and waived the tuition but since you didn't stay, they are probably not feeling too happy to do you any favors.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2016, 03:02:16 PM »
I would go with Jack's idea of a lawyer's legal heading for this one. Also make it clear that there was a reasonable expectation on both parties for continued employment, that they initially broke.

I'll have to muster up some courage to ask our real-estate lawyer friend to do another favor lol.

But before I do that, what about BlueHouse's idea?

"Due to the notice of an imminent non-voluntary termination, I feel that the terms of our agreement were already broken.  Would you mind sending me something in writing explaining why the advance notice of termination wouldn't override and make invalid the tuition reimbursement agreement?  I'd like to share the information with my attorney."

SeanMC

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2016, 03:02:46 PM »
I'm also an attorney (not yours - insert standard disclaimer).

Maybe I am misreading or misunderstanding, but it sounds like they have already paid and are seeking reimbursement from you based on what is an arguable interpretation of the contract provision, given advance termination within the time period that you were committing to stay.

That means that they have to seek the payment from you. If they don't like it, then they are the ones who have to pursue it from YOU & use legal means (including suit to recover) by convincing someone else that their interpretation is correct.

This is not the same as when someone provides you services and then bills you. They don't get to "bill you" and decide that you owe the money here. That's the matter of the legal dispute over the contract.

I don't know that you need to lawyer up right now, but I would make it clear in documented writing that you do not owe this money and do not intend to pay it. Then it's up to them to decide what to do about it. The worst thing that happens is they sue you, you decide it's not worth fighting about or getting a lawyer (if needed) and then you pay. Why start with the worst case scenario now?

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2016, 03:22:28 PM »
I'm also an attorney (not yours - insert standard disclaimer).

Maybe I am misreading or misunderstanding, but it sounds like they have already paid and are seeking reimbursement from you based on what is an arguable interpretation of the contract provision, given advance termination within the time period that you were committing to stay.

That means that they have to seek the payment from you. If they don't like it, then they are the ones who have to pursue it from YOU & use legal means (including suit to recover) by convincing someone else that their interpretation is correct.

This is not the same as when someone provides you services and then bills you. They don't get to "bill you" and decide that you owe the money here. That's the matter of the legal dispute over the contract.

I don't know that you need to lawyer up right now, but I would make it clear in documented writing that you do not owe this money and do not intend to pay it. Then it's up to them to decide what to do about it. The worst thing that happens is they sue you, you decide it's not worth fighting about or getting a lawyer (if needed) and then you pay. Why start with the worst case scenario now?

:) Thanks for the feedback. Yes you are correct - the company approved the tuition reimbursement in July I believe and then paid me out back in August. They are now seeking reimbursement/remittance of that payment based on the fact that I "voluntarily left" the company on December 30th 2015. I left because another job opportunity came up but I would not have gone "job shopping" if they hadn't notified me of the voluntary termination.

And yes, they have not "billed" me per se but have only written a letter which states the following

"You have voluntarily resigned from your position effective December 30, 2015. Under your January 30, 2012 Key Employee Agreement (enclosed) you are obligated to reimburse the company for the following expenses: ....."

*details and description of expenses*

"Please remit a check payable to XXX Corporation... referencing blah blah blah in the amount of XXXXX"

"If XXX has not received reimbursement by February 10, 2016, this matter will be referred to our Credit & Collections Department for further follow up. You will be responsible for reimbursing XXX for any legal fees incurred by the company in connection with this matter."

The last part bothers me - it sounds like if they sue me or proceed further and incur legal costs, that I'll also be responsible for those. Is it a bridge worth crossing?

FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"
« Last Edit: January 16, 2016, 06:02:41 PM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2016, 03:33:10 PM »
Also, in the "termination" letter I received (which required no signature and is considered "non-contractual" and not binding in their own words in the very same letter), it states the following about the employment as related to my end date and "voluntary termination" (this is broken out into various chunks - I left out most of the stuff which relates to the bonus information they offered and other riff-raff I think):

"We regret to inform you that your active employment with XXX will be terminated. This is currently expected to occur on June 23, 2016

Once this occurs, you will be offered a package of pay and benefits continuation under XXX's involuntary separation plan to assist in your transition to new employment"

"...While an ongoing role has not been identified for you, there is a need for your continued services during the next several months as we plan for and begin the transformation"

"It is currently anticipated that your release date will be June 23, 2016. The release date may be subject to change as determined in the discretion of XXX management but if it changes you would be given reasonable notice"

"Nothing herein is intended or should be construed to create a contract for a definite term. Your XXX employment remains "at will" meaning that the employer or the employee is free to terminate the employment relationship at any time"
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 03:35:54 PM by jplee3 »

Jack

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2016, 03:38:12 PM »
The last part bothers me - it sounds like if they sue me or proceed further and incur legal costs, that I'll also be responsible for those. Is it a bridge worth crossing?

FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

It might help for you to realize that you're in a negotiation. The tone in which they are presenting their letter is a tactic.

(I fact, you have already harmed yourself by the tone you used in your initial response. Instead of asking for consideration for them to waive the reimbursement -- which implies that you agree with their assertion that it is a valid debt -- you should have replied to the effect that not only did you not owe them anything in the first place, but that asking you for something that you don't owe is outrageous. Maybe it's a huge bluff, but you have to sell it with your tone.)

For you to be responsible for their legal costs, they have to convince a judge not only that (a) they're right that you are obligated to reimburse them but also (b) it was so obvious that they were right, despite the circumstances, that you should have known it and not forced them to go to court over it. In my (again, not-a-lawyer) opinion, (b) is very unlikely given that even (a) is an iffy proposition!

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2016, 03:42:33 PM »
The last part bothers me - it sounds like if they sue me or proceed further and incur legal costs, that I'll also be responsible for those. Is it a bridge worth crossing?

FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

It might help for you to realize that you're in a negotiation. The tone in which they are presenting their letter is a tactic.

(I fact, you have already harmed yourself by the tone you used in your initial response. Instead of asking for consideration for them to waive the reimbursement -- which implies that you agree with their assertion that it is a valid debt -- you should have replied to the effect that not only did you not owe them anything in the first place, but that asking you for something that you don't owe is outrageous. Maybe it's a huge bluff, but you have to sell it with your tone.)

For you to be responsible for their legal costs, they have to convince a judge not only that (a) they're right that you are obligated to reimburse them but also (b) it was so obvious that they were right, despite the circumstances, that you should have known it and not forced them to go to court over it. In my (again, not-a-lawyer) opinion, (b) is very unlikely given that even (a) is an iffy proposition!

Hmm good points. I never thought of it that way. Agh, I wish you had posted this at the very beginning before I sent out the letter! Oh well, hopefully I can gain some ground with this. I'm starting to feel hopeful with the help I'm getting here. I guess it's a fun "project" - sort of makes me more interested in law and gets me thinking about law school... though, not sure if that's really something I'd want to do. I'm a horrible reader as well :)

Jack

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2016, 03:46:00 PM »
Agh, I wish you had posted this at the very beginning before I sent out the letter!

Sorry, I didn't see the thread until after you'd sent it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2016, 03:49:18 PM »
Agh, I wish you had posted this at the very beginning before I sent out the letter!

Sorry, I didn't see the thread until after you'd sent it.

No worries. The  damage has been done so-to-speak. We'll see if I can recoup from this mess. I suppose I could send them back a letter (drafted up by a lawyer friend) basically telling them that I'm not obligated to pay anything based on the situation.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2016, 04:15:38 PM »
If you had stayed until June, then as part of the package deal they were giving you, they were going to forgive the tuition if I understand it correctly. But you chose to leave early. So asking to waive the tuition because you were going to be laid off anyway is like asking for a prorated part of that bonus they were going to give you. Sure, they could have been nice and waived the tuition but since you didn't stay, they are probably not feeling too happy to do you any favors.

That might be assumed - I don't see anywhere where they explicitly mention that they would waive any such fees. I suppose it's *implied* but I just don't see anywhere where what you say is actually the case. But who knows, maybe I'm missing or glossing over some other documentation/policy/agreement that's hidden somewhere.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2016, 04:26:23 PM »
My circumstances are a bit different, but the method might help you.  A former company was not going to pay me an incentive prize because I no longer worked for them.  I felt they owed it to me, but the terms were never really clear to begin with.  After a few rounds of back and forth with HR, I finally said (on the advice of a lawyer friend):  "My attorney asked you to explain in writing why you don't feel you owe me ...."

Perhaps something similar will work with you.  "Due to the notice of an imminent non-voluntary termination, I feel that the terms of our agreement were already broken.  Would you mind sending me something in writing explaining why the advance notice of termination wouldn't override and make invalid the tuition reimbursement agreement?  I'd like to share the information with my attorney." 

For the record, I think it's pretty crappy for a company to ask to be reimbursed for tuition assistance.

Funny you mention this, I actually spoke with my former directory prior to leaving about a quarterly bonus (because I had just gotten an email a couple days before my last day indicating that we need to fill out our bonus sheets), and asked if I would qualify for it by chance. She replied back and said "of course" - I have a copy of that email thread with her, so I'll probably inquire with her soon about that.

bridget

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2016, 05:43:22 PM »
The last part bothers me - it sounds like if they sue me or proceed further and incur legal costs, that I'll also be responsible for those. Is it a bridge worth crossing?

FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

It might help for you to realize that you're in a negotiation. The tone in which they are presenting their letter is a tactic.

(I fact, you have already harmed yourself by the tone you used in your initial response. Instead of asking for consideration for them to waive the reimbursement -- which implies that you agree with their assertion that it is a valid debt -- you should have replied to the effect that not only did you not owe them anything in the first place, but that asking you for something that you don't owe is outrageous. Maybe it's a huge bluff, but you have to sell it with your tone.)

For you to be responsible for their legal costs, they have to convince a judge not only that (a) they're right that you are obligated to reimburse them but also (b) it was so obvious that they were right, despite the circumstances, that you should have known it and not forced them to go to court over it. In my (again, not-a-lawyer) opinion, (b) is very unlikely given that even (a) is an iffy proposition!

Hmm good points. I never thought of it that way. Agh, I wish you had posted this at the very beginning before I sent out the letter! Oh well, hopefully I can gain some ground with this. I'm starting to feel hopeful with the help I'm getting here. I guess it's a fun "project" - sort of makes me more interested in law and gets me thinking about law school... though, not sure if that's really something I'd want to do. I'm a horrible reader as well :)

Read the initial agreement you signed. There could very well be a provision that says you pay fees if you lose no matter what (honestly, it should say that if they have decent employment lawyers). The general standard for attorneys' fees goes out the window if you signed something to the contrary. SeanMC is right that it's on them to get it out of you, but if you signed a fee provision, that's a risky move (and probably more risky than it's worth). And it's sort of like saying "yeah, I owe the student loan people $10k, but it's on them to come and wring it out of me/send it to collections." True, but introduces complications and problems in your life.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 05:54:03 PM by bridget »

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2016, 06:10:30 PM »
The last part bothers me - it sounds like if they sue me or proceed further and incur legal costs, that I'll also be responsible for those. Is it a bridge worth crossing?

FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

It might help for you to realize that you're in a negotiation. The tone in which they are presenting their letter is a tactic.

(I fact, you have already harmed yourself by the tone you used in your initial response. Instead of asking for consideration for them to waive the reimbursement -- which implies that you agree with their assertion that it is a valid debt -- you should have replied to the effect that not only did you not owe them anything in the first place, but that asking you for something that you don't owe is outrageous. Maybe it's a huge bluff, but you have to sell it with your tone.)

For you to be responsible for their legal costs, they have to convince a judge not only that (a) they're right that you are obligated to reimburse them but also (b) it was so obvious that they were right, despite the circumstances, that you should have known it and not forced them to go to court over it. In my (again, not-a-lawyer) opinion, (b) is very unlikely given that even (a) is an iffy proposition!

Hmm good points. I never thought of it that way. Agh, I wish you had posted this at the very beginning before I sent out the letter! Oh well, hopefully I can gain some ground with this. I'm starting to feel hopeful with the help I'm getting here. I guess it's a fun "project" - sort of makes me more interested in law and gets me thinking about law school... though, not sure if that's really something I'd want to do. I'm a horrible reader as well :)

Read the initial agreement you signed. There could very well be a provision that says you pay fees if you lose no matter what (honestly, it should say that if they have decent employment lawyers). The general standard for attorneys' fees goes out the window if you signed something to the contrary. SeanMC is right that it's on them to get it out of you, but if you signed a fee provision, that's a risky move (and probably more risky than it's worth). And it's sort of like saying "yeah, I owe the student loan people $10k, but it's on them to come and wring it out of me/send it to collections." True, but introduces complications and problems in your life.

The Key Employee Agreement I quoted above was the agreement they're referring to. There is a provision right about the tuition assistance one that reads this:

"you agree that if the Company commences an action against you, by way of claim or counterclaim and including declaratory claims, in which it is preliminarily or finally determined that you have violated any provision of this Agreement, you will reimburse the Company for all its costs, expenses and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in such action. You agree that the exclusive venue for any action seeking declaratory or injunctive relief for violation of this Agreement is in the state and/or federal courts located in Massachusetts, and you onsent to personal jurisdiction in such courts."

I'm really wishing I didn't take the stupid course last year now that all this has come up... who would have known.

So based on what you stated, it sounds like I'm just SOL at this point. And that I should probably just pay up sooner than later (perhaps after sending a letter from a lawyer as a hail mary).
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 06:17:01 PM by jplee3 »

olivia

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2016, 07:40:35 PM »
You've only had one back and forth with them-I would absolutely not pay up at this point.  It's still in the negotiation phase, IMO-they haven't sent this "request for reimbursement" to collections or taken any legal action.  I'd be surprised if the company actually takes it that far given the circumstances.  But if they do, you can always pay up.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2016, 09:13:43 PM »
FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

The Key Employee Agreement I quoted above was the agreement they're referring to. There is a provision right about the tuition assistance one that reads this:

"you agree that if the Company commences an action against you, by way of claim or counterclaim and including declaratory claims, in which it is preliminarily or finally determined that you have violated any provision of this Agreement, you will reimburse the Company for all its costs, expenses and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in such action. You agree that the exclusive venue for any action seeking declaratory or injunctive relief for violation of this Agreement is in the state and/or federal courts located in Massachusetts, and you onsent to personal jurisdiction in such courts."

Working for a big law firm that has a big employment defense practice, it's probably fair to say that I have an employer bias.  (I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer / full disclaimer that I am not providing you legal advice.)  That said, I think your former employer's position is solid -- they have full claim to reimbursement from you, plus all costs, expenses, or fees they incur in the process of getting you to pay them back.  I know you feel like you didn't really leave on your own accord because you had the advanced warning of a probable lay-off, but the fact is that you "voluntarily terminated" your employment with them -- I would be shocked if there's not plenty of case law in your state to back that up.

It is pretty shitty of them to pursue reimbursement from you under the circumstances, but they do have the right to do so.  In my opinion, the only way you could get out of any of this would be if you demonstrate to them that they are better off accepting a lesser amount rather than pursuing you.  Perhaps you could get them to reduce the amount by explaining again that you would not have left the company but for the anticipated lay-off, that you had not anticipated being forced to pay this back, and that it would be an extreme hardship for you.  In this way, perhaps you could get them to agree to a slightly reduced amount, or could get them to agree to a payment plan.  But honestly, if you can afford to reimburse them in the next month, and I were you, then I would just pay it back and be mad at them.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 09:16:17 PM by LeRainDrop »

SwordGuy

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2016, 09:30:41 PM »
You can also determine if they want to win the money from you and lose the business in the court of public opinion.

Very few people would like a company that would treat an employee that way.   They might lose business over it.   Populist politicians might like to hear your story and take up the cause with legislation that would prevent it in the future.

Letj

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2016, 09:44:06 PM »
I had something similar happen to me. I signed the repayment agreement, paid a few months and then stopped paying. I too thought it was unfair to asked for repayment given the circumstances and the fact that I had worked there so long. They are unlikely to take you to court and unlikely to report it to the credit bureau.

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2016, 10:10:40 PM »
I had something similar happen to me. I signed the repayment agreement, paid a few months and then stopped paying. I too thought it was unfair to asked for repayment given the circumstances and the fact that I had worked there so long. They are unlikely to take you to court and unlikely to report it to the credit bureau.

Hahaha, nice! So you ended up setting up a repayment plan with them to pay off in monthly payments (versus lump sum) and just stopped paying them? Reminds me of what happened to Milton Waddams (but the reverse)... "umm excuse me, I have not received my paycheck" ;)

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2016, 10:15:39 PM »
You can also determine if they want to win the money from you and lose the business in the court of public opinion.

Very few people would like a company that would treat an employee that way.   They might lose business over it.   Populist politicians might like to hear your story and take up the cause with legislation that would prevent it in the future.

Interesting - I wonder how I would get my story out there though... it seems like this isn't an uncommon scenario and that most people probably wouldn't care or bother to care. I'll be writing a glaring review of them on Glassdoor when the time comes though - that's for sure. In related "news," they were recently acquired by a private tech company and the deal is slated to close mid-2016. There's a lot of flak around the deal in the industry (a lot of you probably already know by now who the two companies are)

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2016, 10:21:32 PM »
FYI, the Key Employee Agreement states the following regarding tuition:
"You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancedments which may have already been paid to you will be recovered in full if you voluntarily terminate employment within one year of completion of the respective course(s)"

The Key Employee Agreement I quoted above was the agreement they're referring to. There is a provision right about the tuition assistance one that reads this:

"you agree that if the Company commences an action against you, by way of claim or counterclaim and including declaratory claims, in which it is preliminarily or finally determined that you have violated any provision of this Agreement, you will reimburse the Company for all its costs, expenses and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in such action. You agree that the exclusive venue for any action seeking declaratory or injunctive relief for violation of this Agreement is in the state and/or federal courts located in Massachusetts, and you onsent to personal jurisdiction in such courts."

Working for a big law firm that has a big employment defense practice, it's probably fair to say that I have an employer bias.  (I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer / full disclaimer that I am not providing you legal advice.)  That said, I think your former employer's position is solid -- they have full claim to reimbursement from you, plus all costs, expenses, or fees they incur in the process of getting you to pay them back.  I know you feel like you didn't really leave on your own accord because you had the advanced warning of a probable lay-off, but the fact is that you "voluntarily terminated" your employment with them -- I would be shocked if there's not plenty of case law in your state to back that up.

It is pretty shitty of them to pursue reimbursement from you under the circumstances, but they do have the right to do so.  In my opinion, the only way you could get out of any of this would be if you demonstrate to them that they are better off accepting a lesser amount rather than pursuing you.  Perhaps you could get them to reduce the amount by explaining again that you would not have left the company but for the anticipated lay-off, that you had not anticipated being forced to pay this back, and that it would be an extreme hardship for you.  In this way, perhaps you could get them to agree to a slightly reduced amount, or could get them to agree to a payment plan.  But honestly, if you can afford to reimburse them in the next month, and I were you, then I would just pay it back and be mad at them.

This was no "probable" lay-off. It was an advance termination notice - my target termination date was set to June 23rd 2016 or sooner at the discretion of the company. It's not like there was some chance that this *wouldn't* happen.
Of course, if another division or group wanted to hire me or what not, they could but it would be like any other job opportunity - a req would need to open up and I would either transfer out or be promoted.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2016, 10:23:47 PM »
You can also determine if they want to win the money from you and lose the business in the court of public opinion. . . . Populist politicians might like to hear your story and take up the cause with legislation that would prevent it in the future.

Interesting - I wonder how I would get my story out there though... it seems like this isn't an uncommon scenario and that most people probably wouldn't care or bother to care.

Yeah, this type of policy surrounding tuition assistance is really pretty common.  The idea is that the employer will invest in your development (1) to foster your loyalty to the company, and (2) so that the employer can benefit from your new or improved skills.  But if the employer pays for that and then you quickly hit the road, they are not getting the very benefit that made them willing to pay in the first place.  That's why they build in this option to recover the tuition from the former employee.  But like the HR person somewhere else in this thread said, many companies wouldn't actually follow through to demand repayment.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2016, 10:28:43 PM »
This was no "probable" lay-off. It was an advance termination notice - my target termination date was set to June 23rd 2016 or sooner at the discretion of the company. It's not like there was some chance that this *wouldn't* happen.  Of course, if another division or group wanted to hire me or what not, they could but it would be like any other job opportunity - a req would need to open up and I would either transfer out or be promoted.

You're reading it like they are mutually exclusive, but they are not -- this was a probable lay-off AND an advance termination notice.  According to the notice letter that you quoted -- "It is currently anticipated that your release date will be June 23, 2016. The release date may be subject to change as determined in the discretion of XXX management but if it changes you would be given reasonable notice" -- it was not a definitive lay-off as a legal matter, but obviously a (very highly) probable lay-off as a practical planning matter.  Trust me, they most definitely had their legal department craft that language as an "anticipated . . . release" precisely so that they could skirt any claim that they had already terminated you.  You're still reading this like a regular person, not as a preemptively-defensive, sophisticated business.  (Not an insult to you -- I'm just saying that you are being reasonable/rational, but the employer's language is carefully designed as to quash potential legal claims.)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 10:31:39 PM by LeRainDrop »

jeromedawg

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Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
« Reply #49 on: January 15, 2016, 10:31:55 PM »
This was no "probable" lay-off. It was an advance termination notice - my target termination date was set to June 23rd 2016 or sooner at the discretion of the company. It's not like there was some chance that this *wouldn't* happen.  Of course, if another division or group wanted to hire me or what not, they could but it would be like any other job opportunity - a req would need to open up and I would either transfer out or be promoted.

According to the notice letter that you quoted -- "It is currently anticipated that your release date will be June 23, 2016. The release date may be subject to change as determined in the discretion of XXX management but if it changes you would be given reasonable notice" -- it was not a definitive lay-off as a legal matter, but obviously a (very highly) probably lay-off as a practical planning matter.  Trust me, they most definitely had their legal department craft that language as an "anticipated . . . release" precisely so that they could skirt any claim that they had already terminated you.  You're still reading this like a regular person, not as a grimy legal matter.  (Not an insult -- just saying that you are being reasonable/rational, but the employer's language is carefully designed as to quash potential legal claims.)

Ah, I see it now. Yea that's pretty sneaky of them - I was kinda wondering about the whole tidbit of them saying how "this letter is not contractual or binding" blah blah blah. Well, the company did announce "cost cutting measures" for the year so maybe this is one of their fall-backs. I'll see what my lawyer friend says (if she agrees to look into it for me) as a final opinion and go from there. I suppose it's worth a few more tries to see if I can convince them, but based on the last response they're sounding more and more like hardened and pathetic jerks.

EDIT: that "advance termination" notice letter also contained information about a retention bonus for all who received it. If they're going through such lengths to reclaim an amount of tuition money to them that is pretty petty, and if the bonus amounts people are being promised are 6-7-8+ times the amount of my tuition amount, it makes me wonder if they have more tricks up their sleeve that they're gonna pull to screw a bunch of people out of their retention bonuses... Especially now that the takeover deal is slated to occur mid-year and many received retention bonus "offers" with target dates of June and later, couldn't those offers get tossed out the window since it wasn't technically the private company (let's call them "Bell" LOL!) that presented these non-binding and non-contractual offers?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 10:46:06 PM by jplee3 »