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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: jeromedawg on January 14, 2016, 04:05:52 PM

Title: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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")
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: GrOW 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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?)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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."
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: bridget 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: ShortInSeattle 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: sonjak 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: BlueHouse 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: former player 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: GrOW 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: AZDude 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: AZDude 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?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: AZDude 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack 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.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: bridget 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: BlueHouse 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. 
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: hoping2retire35 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: beltim 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?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SKL-HOU 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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."
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SeanMC 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?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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)"
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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"
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack 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!
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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 :)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: bridget 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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).
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: olivia 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SwordGuy 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Letj 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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" ;)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop 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.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop 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.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg 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?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 16, 2016, 10:55:43 AM
Aside from cc'ing my former director on the initial email I sent out, I just sent her a LinkedIn message asking if she would vouch for me having known more closely the details of the circumstances I (and everyone else affected) was in. She seems like a reasonable person, so I'll see what she comes back with. Part of me thinks she's probably going to agree and side with the company (perhaps for fear of not looking bad if she starts trying to pull strings to drop the request?). I figure it's worth a shot. If not, I may go ahead and ask for a reduction in the request.

I consulted with my lawyer friend and she agrees with you, LeRainDrop, that there isn't really any recourse here. Especially if I tell her about the wording that you pointed out as well, she'll likely double-confirm that I can't really do anything about it. Guess I'm likely looking at a full or reduced payment and tax-writeoff. I know a lot of you say this is the negotiation phase but based on what has been pointed out by several here already, it seems that trying to argue and convince them on the point would be pretty fruitless.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 11:19:04 AM
So I'm planning to draft another response email to the HR director who replied to me. Do you guys think I should ask again, at a more personal level and seeking empathy, for her to push towards dropping their request?

Or should I just try to get them to accept a partial payment (perhaps prorated)? Would it be fair to ask if they prorate based on the amount due divided by 12 months X the number of months that would be left by me leaving? (e.g. tuition assistance is $4600, out of the 12 months per policy I had only worked 4 before leaving, which leaves 8 months. So 8 months of prorated tution is about $3066.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack on January 18, 2016, 01:09:09 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.

Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

Leaving all that aside, what would have been the OP's right move under the circumstances?
What's he supposed to do, stop doing his work and get fired for cause?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 01:28:10 PM
Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

I very strongly disagree with your view.  It's a close to sure thing that the former employer would actually win on summary judgment if they went so far as to sue him.  The law on these points is very well-established, and former employer did a good job locking this stuff into the contract.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: TheInsuranceMan on January 18, 2016, 01:29:49 PM
I had to repay mine to my past employer, but I left voluntarily and knew I'd have to repay. 
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 01:34:10 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.

Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

Leaving all that aside, what would have been the OP's right move under the circumstances?
  • He can't retroactively decide not to have taken the course
  • He can't quit, because that apparently triggers repayment
  • He can't wait to get laid off, because the layoff date is still less than a year from when the class was taken, and that severance agreement might make the separation "voluntary" too.
What's he supposed to do, stop doing his work and get fired for cause?

I agree with everything you say.  But LeRainDrop does make a good point about the wording they used in my original non-contractual/unbinding offer letter that they didn't make us sign. She points out that the wording they used doesn't indicate a "definite" advance termination of my position but that everything about it is "probable" - considering that, it seems that the company could argue (in winning favor) that my voluntary termination was in fact voluntary and that their conditions of employment were only "probable" and "likely"
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 01:40:15 PM
So I'm planning to draft another response email to the HR director who replied to me. Do you guys think I should ask again, at a more personal level and seeking empathy, for her to push towards dropping their request?

Or should I just try to get them to accept a partial payment (perhaps prorated)? Would it be fair to ask if they prorate based on the amount due divided by 12 months X the number of months that would be left by me leaving? (e.g. tuition assistance is $4600, out of the 12 months per policy I had only worked 4 before leaving, which leaves 8 months. So 8 months of prorated tution is about $3066.)

I would do a combo:  Appeal to empathy and what a hardship this repayment would be.  Argue that you understood the employer had waived the repayment provision because it notified you that you would not be employed for the full year anyway.  Offer the prorated value as a "more than fair" compromise under the circumstances that you'd already been notified of your impending lay-off.  Also ask to spread the payment out over a few months, if that's something that would be helpful to you.  Keep your tone pleasant.  (Reminder that although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer and am not providing you legal advice.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack on January 18, 2016, 01:46:09 PM
Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

I very strongly disagree with your view.  It's a close to sure thing that the former employer would actually win on summary judgment if they went so far as to sue him.  The law on these points is very well-established, and former employer did a good job locking this stuff into the contract.

This is why people hate lawyers: they get so fucking caught up in what's "legal" and "well-established," that they lose track of what's "equitable" and "fair" and "right!"

When you say "disagree with my view" you might have meant it as "disagree with the idea that a judge would side with jplee3," [in reality] but the idea you actually conveyed was "disagree with the idea that a judge should side with jplee3" [in an ideal world] and that's just fucked up.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 02:06:05 PM
Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

I very strongly disagree with your view.  It's a close to sure thing that the former employer would actually win on summary judgment if they went so far as to sue him.  The law on these points is very well-established, and former employer did a good job locking this stuff into the contract.

This is why people hate lawyers: they get so fucking caught up in what's "legal" and "well-established," that they lose track of what's "equitable" and "fair" and "right!"

When you say "disagree with my view" you might have meant it as "disagree with the idea that a judge would side with jplee3," [in reality] but the idea you actually conveyed was "disagree with the idea that a judge should side with jplee3" [in an ideal world] and that's just fucked up.

Oh, sorry, to clarify -- I think it is really shitty of the employer to go after jplee3 for this repayment.  They should have just let it go.  However, I do think that any judge is very likely to rule in favor of the former employer on summary judgment because there is a written and signed contract regarding repayment that seems to be perfectly clear.  jplee3 agreed to those terms.  jplee3 also voluntarily left that employer.  Again, I totally understand why he did it, but the fact is that he did leave voluntarily.  The judge's job is to apply the law to the facts -- that is his legal and ethical responsibility.  So, I think any judge doing his job correctly (based on the facts currently listed in this thread) would rule in favor of the former employer.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 02:11:15 PM
This is why people hate lawyers: they get so fucking caught up in what's "legal" and "well-established," that they lose track of what's "equitable" and "fair" and "right!"

There absolutely is an important role for fairness and equity in the law!  That is a huge part of it!  I just really don't think that has a chance of modifying the outcome for jplee3 under the facts that he has shared here.  By the way, a lawyer's job is not to tell clients what we would like the law to be -- we have to advise them of the actual risks (i.e., what will the judge do when he applies the law to the facts) and then, based on the client's decision, be the best advocate for that position as we ethically can.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 02:13:58 PM
So I'm planning to draft another response email to the HR director who replied to me. Do you guys think I should ask again, at a more personal level and seeking empathy, for her to push towards dropping their request?

Or should I just try to get them to accept a partial payment (perhaps prorated)? Would it be fair to ask if they prorate based on the amount due divided by 12 months X the number of months that would be left by me leaving? (e.g. tuition assistance is $4600, out of the 12 months per policy I had only worked 4 before leaving, which leaves 8 months. So 8 months of prorated tution is about $3066.)

I would do a combo:  Appeal to empathy and what a hardship this repayment would be.  Argue that you understood the employer had waived the repayment provision because it notified you that you would not be employed for the full year anyway.  Offer the prorated value as a "more than fair" compromise under the circumstances that you'd already been notified of your impending lay-off.  Also ask to spread the payment out over a few months, if that's something that would be helpful to you.  Keep your tone pleasant.  (Reminder that although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer and am not providing you legal advice.)

Thanks! I'm planning to do this across a couple emails. First email would be asking, again, for them to reconsider given the circumstances (I would not have been employed for another full year anyway, and this would have been an exception made per their policy upon notifying me of that termination, etc). I also mentioned how this would bring upon much hardship especially having had our first child recently.

Then if they reject it again, I'll follow-up with the "more than fair" offer to repay a prorated amount and perhaps via a repayment plan. We'll see how this goes.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack on January 18, 2016, 02:39:39 PM
Oh, sorry, to clarify -- I think it is really shitty of the employer to go after jplee3 for this repayment.  They should have just let it go.  However, I do think that any judge is very likely to rule in favor of the former employer on summary judgment because there is a written and signed contract regarding repayment that seems to be perfectly clear.  jplee3 agreed to those terms.  jplee3 also voluntarily left that employer.  Again, I totally understand why he did it, but the fact is that he did leave voluntarily.  The judge's job is to apply the law to the facts -- that is his legal and ethical responsibility.  So, I think any judge doing his job correctly (based on the facts currently listed in this thread) would rule in favor of the former employer.

I don't doubt that you're right about how a judge would rule, but I still object to the "fact" of jplee3's separation being characterized as "voluntary." It's as if that word has acquired some sort of alternate legal-jargon definition that's divorced from its common meaning. I mean, jplee3 leaving his employer was as "voluntary" as handing over a wallet to a mugger in lieu of getting shot; the only difference is he did it sooner than the mugger demanded.

I also object to the contract provision that jplee3 would automatically be held liable for the company's costs in the event that he lost the litigation -- that entire category of clauses should be held unconscionable and void for all contracts, everywhere.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 02:42:48 PM
Oh, sorry, to clarify -- I think it is really shitty of the employer to go after jplee3 for this repayment.  They should have just let it go.  However, I do think that any judge is very likely to rule in favor of the former employer on summary judgment because there is a written and signed contract regarding repayment that seems to be perfectly clear.  jplee3 agreed to those terms.  jplee3 also voluntarily left that employer.  Again, I totally understand why he did it, but the fact is that he did leave voluntarily.  The judge's job is to apply the law to the facts -- that is his legal and ethical responsibility.  So, I think any judge doing his job correctly (based on the facts currently listed in this thread) would rule in favor of the former employer.

I don't doubt that you're right about how a judge would rule, but I still object to the "fact" of jplee3's separation being characterized as "voluntary." It's as if that word has acquired some sort of alternate legal-jargon definition that's divorced from its common meaning. I mean, jplee3 leaving his employer was as "voluntary" as handing over a wallet to a mugger in lieu of getting shot; the only difference is he did it sooner than the mugger demanded.

I also object to the contract provision that jplee3 would automatically be held liable for the company's costs in the event that he lost the litigation -- that entire category of clauses should be held unconscionable and void for all contracts, everywhere.

lol...loving the the mugger analogy.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 03:40:32 PM
The HR director replied and shot me down again on my second request:

"The tuition repayment would have been waived had you stayed at XXX through June 23rd, 2016.  Since you chose to leave voluntarily in December, you will owe XXX the cost for your training that took place in July and August of the same year."

They're definitely holding their ground. I just replied, asking that if they won't consider a waiver, if they'll prorate the amount according to how much time I had left. I actually only had 10 months from August when I was repaid. So I calculated a prorated amount based on the full tuition cost divided by 10. Then multiplied that by the 6 months that were left until June from the last day of employment (12/30/2015) and rounded up. If they refuse even this it's going to leave the worst taste in my mouth...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 03:47:58 PM
The HR director replied and shot me down again on my second request:

"The tuition repayment would have been waived had you stayed at XXX through June 23rd, 2016.  Since you chose to leave voluntarily in December, you will owe XXX the cost for your training that took place in July and August of the same year."

They're definitely holding their ground. I just replied, asking that if they won't consider a waiver, if they'll prorate the amount according to how much time I had left. I actually only had 10 months from August when I was repaid. So I calculated a prorated amount based on the full tuition cost divided by 10. Then multiplied that by the 6 months that were left until June from the last day of employment (12/30/2015) and rounded up. If they refuse even this it's going to leave the worst taste in my mouth...

I'm sorry, jplee3.  That really sucks.  Wishing you luck with your most recent email!
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 03:52:27 PM
The HR director replied and shot me down again on my second request:

"The tuition repayment would have been waived had you stayed at XXX through June 23rd, 2016.  Since you chose to leave voluntarily in December, you will owe XXX the cost for your training that took place in July and August of the same year."

They're definitely holding their ground. I just replied, asking that if they won't consider a waiver, if they'll prorate the amount according to how much time I had left. I actually only had 10 months from August when I was repaid. So I calculated a prorated amount based on the full tuition cost divided by 10. Then multiplied that by the 6 months that were left until June from the last day of employment (12/30/2015) and rounded up. If they refuse even this it's going to leave the worst taste in my mouth...

I'm sorry, jplee3.  That really sucks.  Wishing you luck with your most recent email!

I'll be more upset that I wasted 5 minutes doing the math on all that and having to explain it....!!! lol it really looks like I'll have a 2015 tax write-off coming. blahhh
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: lhamo on January 18, 2016, 07:01:16 PM
Yeah, it sucks. But keep in mind you did give a very short notice and spent much of the last few weeks of your time at the company on paid leave.  That might be one reason they are sticking you with this.  Not that it is what a good company would do.  But I think their actions have already shown that they are not a good company.

Hope you are enjoying your new position, and that the move turns out to be good for you and your family.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 07:32:02 PM
Yeah, it sucks. But keep in mind you did give a very short notice and spent much of the last few weeks of your time at the company on paid leave.  That might be one reason they are sticking you with this.  Not that it is what a good company would do.  But I think their actions have already shown that they are not a good company.

Hope you are enjoying your new position, and that the move turns out to be good for you and your family.

My notice was just under the 'standard two-weeks' (I definitely wouldn't call it 'very short' by any means) - and I went out of my way (while still on break) to go in and give notice to my former director in person, so that should have been ample time. Plus, it was at the end of the year when things are pretty dead regardless, and I made sure to preemptively transition all my stuff off prior to all this going down, so there really was nothing left for me to do during my last few days there (I assured the director of this and she was totally fine with everything and didn't give me hassle or micromanage my departure and handing off stuff). They really shouldn't have anything to fuss over and are certainly playing the part of "sore loser" (and bullying me around with all the legal crap too) - I'm sure a lot of it has to do with 'housekeeping' before the pending closure of the big deal coming up. I figure they could probably care less what their reputation is going into it, and are scrounging for money however and wherever they can. On that note, even if I gave them much earlier notice than I did, I don't think that would have changed their stance on seeking out the tuition assistance from me, since I still would have "voluntarily terminated" my employment within the year.

I hope the new position will turn out well as well (obviously, lol)... I think it's still too soon to tell (we especially won't have a good gauge until my parents leave and my wife goes SAHM full time which is February). Most of all, I just want to get past this with the old company - it's like breaking up with the psycho girlfriend who won't let go... not that I've been through this, but I was just reminded of one of my buddies' past experiences (the girl keyed his car all the way around and he ended up having to get a restraining order against her...!!!)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: lhamo on January 18, 2016, 08:31:22 PM
I guess two weeks is standard, but in my line of work a month is typical (and was required by both of my previous employers).

I hear you about psycho breakups though.  Both of mine were pretty painful. 

Can't quite believe I just submitted another job application.  Seriously hoping they don't call me....
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 18, 2016, 08:49:12 PM
I'm sure a lot of it has to do with 'housekeeping' before the pending closure of the big deal coming up. I figure they could probably care less what their reputation is going into it, and are scrounging for money however and wherever they can. On that note, even if I gave them much earlier notice than I did, I don't think that would have changed their stance on seeking out the tuition assistance from me, since I still would have "voluntarily terminated" my employment within the year.

Probably all very true.

Quote
Most of all, I just want to get past this with the old company - it's like breaking up with the psycho girlfriend who won't let go...

LOL, great comparison!  Congrats on the new baby and the new job :-)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 09:19:16 PM
I guess two weeks is standard, but in my line of work a month is typical (and was required by both of my previous employers).

I hear you about psycho breakups though.  Both of mine were pretty painful. 

Can't quite believe I just submitted another job application.  Seriously hoping they don't call me....

Wow, a month's notice!? What line of work are you in?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 18, 2016, 09:23:41 PM
I'm sure a lot of it has to do with 'housekeeping' before the pending closure of the big deal coming up. I figure they could probably care less what their reputation is going into it, and are scrounging for money however and wherever they can. On that note, even if I gave them much earlier notice than I did, I don't think that would have changed their stance on seeking out the tuition assistance from me, since I still would have "voluntarily terminated" my employment within the year.

Probably all very true.

Quote
Most of all, I just want to get past this with the old company - it's like breaking up with the psycho girlfriend who won't let go...

LOL, great comparison!  Congrats on the new baby and the new job :-)


Apparently there's a collective $147 million on the table for all the execs pending closure of the deal. So I'm sure they're doing everything in their power to close the deal. Even if it means burning many bridges along the way. Why should they care when they'll be bought out soon and a big payout is on the line. I'm sure most of this is driven by petty corporate greed.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 12:17:18 AM
Here's the trouble: he didn't "quickly hit the road," the company kicked him to the curb. Because of that, it's the company's own damn fault that they made the choice to throw away the benefit of his new or improved skills. Surely that fact should trigger some kind of estoppel or allow an "unclean hands" argument, or something!

Any judge that doesn't see it that way should be removed from the bench, regardless of the bullshit legal weaseling argued.

I very strongly disagree with your view.  It's a close to sure thing that the former employer would actually win on summary judgment if they went so far as to sue him.  The law on these points is very well-established, and former employer did a good job locking this stuff into the contract.

Btw, there would be no way to *not* sign into the contract other than by not accepting employment right? So they basically had me from the start... I'm sure that's how most companies are to protect themselves, but scarcely would you think they'd use the same provisions to bully around and mistreat former employees.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 19, 2016, 06:51:02 AM
The HR director replied and shot me down again on my second request:

"The tuition repayment would have been waived had you stayed at XXX through June 23rd, 2016.  Since you chose to leave voluntarily in December, you will owe XXX the cost for your training that took place in July and August of the same year."

They're definitely holding their ground. I just replied, asking that if they won't consider a waiver, if they'll prorate the amount according to how much time I had left. I actually only had 10 months from August when I was repaid. So I calculated a prorated amount based on the full tuition cost divided by 10. Then multiplied that by the 6 months that were left until June from the last day of employment (12/30/2015) and rounded up. If they refuse even this it's going to leave the worst taste in my mouth...

It sounds to me like you should be prepared for a worst taste in your mouth. They seem to be holding very firm to their policy.  Maybe there are a number of people who have a similar circumstance, and therefore bending for you would cost them a lot when other people try to not pay what they owe.

I left an employer knowing I would have to pay back tuition assistance. I weighed heavily whether the amount I would have to repay was worth the having the new job. If I had stayed to not have to repay it, it was possible that new job wouldn't wait for me. So for me, it was worth it.  I've also seen people negotiate for their new job to pay what they owe to leave the old company.  I know you can't go back in time, but there were other things you could have done than just assume it would be forgiven. Why didn't you ask HR before you gave notice you were leaving?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: lhamo on January 19, 2016, 07:11:32 AM
I guess two weeks is standard, but in my line of work a month is typical (and was required by both of my previous employers).

I hear you about psycho breakups though.  Both of mine were pretty painful. 

Can't quite believe I just submitted another job application.  Seriously hoping they don't call me....

Wow, a month's notice!? What line of work are you in?

Non-profit management, but with an international spin.  There is a limited pool of people who can due the kind of work I used to do, largely due to the need for language/cultural competency.  Hiring searches take a long time. 
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 08:25:56 AM
The HR director replied and shot me down again on my second request:

"The tuition repayment would have been waived had you stayed at XXX through June 23rd, 2016.  Since you chose to leave voluntarily in December, you will owe XXX the cost for your training that took place in July and August of the same year."

They're definitely holding their ground. I just replied, asking that if they won't consider a waiver, if they'll prorate the amount according to how much time I had left. I actually only had 10 months from August when I was repaid. So I calculated a prorated amount based on the full tuition cost divided by 10. Then multiplied that by the 6 months that were left until June from the last day of employment (12/30/2015) and rounded up. If they refuse even this it's going to leave the worst taste in my mouth...

It sounds to me like you should be prepared for a worst taste in your mouth. They seem to be holding very firm to their policy.  Maybe there are a number of people who have a similar circumstance, and therefore bending for you would cost them a lot when other people try to not pay what they owe.

I left an employer knowing I would have to pay back tuition assistance. I weighed heavily whether the amount I would have to repay was worth the having the new job. If I had stayed to not have to repay it, it was possible that new job wouldn't wait for me. So for me, it was worth it.  I've also seen people negotiate for their new job to pay what they owe to leave the old company.  I know you can't go back in time, but there were other things you could have done than just assume it would be forgiven. Why didn't you ask HR before you gave notice you were leaving?

With everything that happened in terms of the lay-offs and advance terminations, and people looking over their shoulders and worrying, tuition assistance was [if not] the last thing on my mind. I don't think it [worrying about having to pay it back because I would be violating policy by leaving early despite having advance notice] actually ever crossed my mind at that point in time.

I know I can't know for sure but judging by how things are going now, it seems that if I had contacted HR, I would have gotten the same response while putting a target in my back... "hey so I was just wondering, *hypothetically*, if I were to quit early even though I'm on advance notice, is there anything I should be aware of?" lol - it just seems so obvious, and I wouldn't be surprised if I would have been given an even harder time during and after my departure...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 19, 2016, 08:43:53 AM

With everything that happened in terms of the lay-offs and advance terminations, and people looking over their shoulders and worrying, tuition assistance was [if not] the last thing on my mind. I don't think it [worrying about having to pay it back because I would be violating policy by leaving early despite having advance notice] actually ever crossed my mind at that point in time.

I know I can't know for sure but judging by how things are going now, it seems that if I had contacted HR, I would have gotten the same response while putting a target in my back... "hey so I was just wondering, *hypothetically*, if I were to quit early even though I'm on advance notice, is there anything I should be aware of?" lol - it just seems so obvious, and I wouldn't be surprised if I would have been given an even harder time during and after my departure...

Yeah, I've been laid off before, with advanced notice, it sucks- there is a lot to worry about.

And it certainly isn't a waste of time to try, and keep trying; it just sounds like you are going to be out of luck here. 
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SeanMC on January 19, 2016, 09:32:00 AM
It sounds like mentally they have convinced you that they are right, you are wrong, and they are demonstrating that they will fight. Your tone has not matched the belief that you do not owe and you will not pay. In fact, in some of your communications, you may have conceded your ability to contest (can't know without seeing it).

I'm a bit troubled in this thread by all the (disclaimer) lawyerly advice/non-advice. I say that as someone who contributed to this. Unless people know your jurisdiction, how courts/judges/mediators/etc. handle these contracts and cases, the advice is NOT particularly helpful. These contracts are written by the employers to trip up employees like you. That doesn't mean that every judge or decision-maker will let the company win. In fact, contract clauses that are disproportionately against you and abused against you often are interpreted in your favor or flat out unenforceable if push comes to shove (which is why they try to bully you into where you are now). That's a big reason many companies now use arbitration, where it is cheaper and more likely they will win versus court system.

I have had my own HR office tell me or colleagues that we don't have rights to things that we DO. And you have to decide whether to fight or not. The hard-line of the company doesn't make it so. It doesn't even mean they will indeed fight if you choose to fight back. It also doesn't make them more legally correct.

I can't tell you what to do or what will happen. My attitude is that it's worth it on paper to fight and make it clear you dispute and will dispute (and NEVER cede the right!). Then if someone pursues legal action or a claim, I can decide whether it's worth it to me to keep going.

What I will say for people reading this thread - not just the OP - is please think carefully before you post all these wonderful "hypothetical" answers to what will actually happen to this OP and people like him without knowing very much about which legal system or location he would - in practice - be contesting this in. What you are saying may be "technically" correct where you are or from your own experience, but it gives a poor impression of what the law in practice might actually be for him. This is exactly why "disclaimer/not your lawyer" was created!
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 09:54:59 AM
It sounds like mentally they have convinced you that they are right, you are wrong, and they are demonstrating that they will fight. Your tone has not matched the belief that you do not owe and you will not pay. In fact, in some of your communications, you may have conceded your ability to contest (can't know without seeing it).

I'm a bit troubled in this thread by all the (disclaimer) lawyerly advice/non-advice. I say that as someone who contributed to this. Unless people know your jurisdiction, how courts/judges/mediators/etc. handle these contracts and cases, the advice is NOT particularly helpful. These contracts are written by the employers to trip up employees like you. That doesn't mean that every judge or decision-maker will let the company win. In fact, contract clauses that are disproportionately against you and abused against you often are interpreted in your favor or flat out unenforceable if push comes to shove (which is why they try to bully you into where you are now). That's a big reason many companies now use arbitration, where it is cheaper and more likely they will win versus court system.

I have had my own HR office tell me or colleagues that we don't have rights to things that we DO. And you have to decide whether to fight or not. The hard-line of the company doesn't make it so. It doesn't even mean they will indeed fight if you choose to fight back. It also doesn't make them more legally correct.

I can't tell you what to do or what will happen. My attitude is that it's worth it on paper to fight and make it clear you dispute and will dispute (and NEVER cede the right!). Then if someone pursues legal action or a claim, I can decide whether it's worth it to me to keep going.

What I will say for people reading this thread - not just the OP - is please think carefully before you post all these wonderful "hypothetical" answers to what will actually happen to this OP and people like him without knowing very much about which legal system or location he would - in practice - be contesting this in. What you are saying may be "technically" correct where you are or from your own experience, but it gives a poor impression of what the law in practice might actually be for him. This is exactly why "disclaimer/not your lawyer" was created!


Thanks for the alternate viewpoint.

It sounds like regardless of what I sent to them via email, they'd just keep telling me the same thing and that everything I did was "voluntary" blah blah blah. Considering that, what else could I have done differently? Can I just decide not to pay by the deadline they've set and then see if they come after me further? In doing something like that, it seems like they would hold me responsible for additional fees incurred in going after me for this (especially upon signing that key employee agreement and 'locking' myself into it).

I don't know, it sounds risky to try calling their bluff and end up incurring more fees and what I ultimately owe them. I mean, what else could I have said to them if I had told them [in more or less words] "I don't owe you anything. Sorry." (to which they would have responded with the same message back as they already have)?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 19, 2016, 10:02:04 AM
Why not talk to a lawyer rather than strangers on the internet?

Of course, that might make it not worth the $5k that this is over, because presumably you'd have to pay the lawyer. (Maybe the consultation would be free?).  For $5k, I think I'd just suck it up and pay it (like you said you would when you signed the paper saying you would pay back tuition assistance if you left within a year of the course).  That's like two classes. If it were a whole degree it would be much more worth the fight.

Like the previous poster said, we don't know your jurisdiction.  But here, these contracts (for repayment of tuition assistance) are enforceable. It's usually the non-competes that are not, at least in my industry- because it basically prevents people from working at all, and here that isn't legal. Unless of course you accepted compensation to sign the non-compete. Then you get held to it.  I've known multiple people surprised by that- they just assume it's non-enforceable, and it isn't always.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Dicey on January 19, 2016, 10:02:31 AM
I just read this whole thread. I'm wondering about the course you took. Did it provide you with anything useful? Perhaps focusing on the value received would make this pill easier to swallow. It seems you might have better use for your life's energy. Since you can write it off, I'd strongly consider doing so and moving on with your life. Of course, the mustachian me would try to arrange to stretch out the payments over the course of this whole year, since I'm guessing you won't be able to write it off until next year. [Insert obligatory "I'm not a CPA" disclaimer here.]

Edited to fix typo. Still getting used to new not-an-iPad thingy.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 10:11:50 AM
Why not talk to a lawyer rather than strangers on the internet?

Of course, that might make it not worth the $5k that this is over, because presumably you'd have to pay the lawyer. (Maybe the consultation would be free?).  For $5k, I think I'd just suck it up and pay it.  That's like two classes. If it were a whole degree it would be much more worth the fight.

Like the previous poster said, we don't know your jurisdiction.  But here, these contracts (for repayment of tuition assistance) are enforceable. It's usually the non-competes that are not, at least in my industry- because it basically prevents people from working at all, and here that isn't legal. Unless of course you accepted compensation to sign the non-compete. Then you get held to it.  I've known multiple people surprised by that- they just assume it's non-enforceable, and it isn't always.

I sent a quick email to my friend who is a lawyer (and lives down the street from me) and without looking at the actual policies but me explaining (and paraphrasing) she told me, more or less, that the former employee has the upper-ground here.
I'm in SoCal btw but the former company is HQed in Mass.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 10:18:19 AM
I just read this whole thread. I'm wondering about the course you took. Did it provide you with anything useful? Perhaps focusing on the value received would make this pill easier to swallow. It seems you might have better use for your life's energy. Since you can write it off, I'd strongly consider doing so and moving on with your life. Of course, the mustachian me would try to arrange to stretch out the payments out over the course of this whole year, since I'm guessing you won't be able to write it off until next year. [Insert obligatory "I'm not a CPA" disclaimer here.]

It was a course for CISSP (information security industry certification) training. I think access to the material itself is particularly useful (aside from the now-expired recordings which are basically slides from every page in each book + the guy talking, I have the same recordings in mp3s and books). Someone earlier mentioned I *should* be able to write it off for 2015 but we'll see how this all pans out....
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: mm1970 on January 19, 2016, 11:21:14 AM
I don't know, it seems like you've spent an awful lot of time trying to get out of this.  It seems to me that the employer is in the right here.  You agreed to pay them back if you left before the year is up.  And you are leaving.   

Is it really worth all this work?

Note: if you are in the right, that would be completely different.  My husband and I are known for fighting for small things and large things when we are in the right - incorrect medical bill, a late fee when the bank screwed up, etc.  We'll spend time on $20 because it's the principal.

But this seems pretty cut and dried to me.  Even if you were "possibly" going to be laid off.  You weren't laid off.  You quit.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 11:31:23 AM
Just got a response back - my proposal (for the prorated amount) was denied by the HR and Legal teams. Looks like that settles that, for the most part...

Wow, this thread has stirred up quite a bit of controversy! Seems like several are of the opinion that I should keep trying to fight it while others take the stance that the former company is in the right and I should just oblige with the repayment. I'm pretty conflicted myself, of course wanting to fight (and win), but it seems like an uphill battle. And yea, not sure if it's worth the time (or especially getting a lawyer). Sounds like just paying it and doing a tax write-off is the 'easiest' and perhaps best option at this point in time.

That said, I'm deeply disappointed in my former company that they are going so hard after me for this.

Here's the response BTW:

"Your proposal was denied by XXX Legal and HR.

Since you left on Dec. 30th, 2015 on your own accord and participated in an XXX training during July and August, 2015, you are required to repay XXX for the amount of the training.   

This is based on the Key Employee Agreement (KEA) that you signed, upon hire highlighting verbiage below (full documents and your signed affirmation are attached). 

 

(i) You agree that tuition costs for which the Company has reimbursed you and tuition advancements 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).

 

You chose not to stay with XXX until June 30th, 2016, 6 months post your actual voluntary termination date of December 2015.  You are correct, had you stayed until June 30th, 2016 the obligation to owe XXX back for the class would have been voided.   With that said, you are obligated to reimburse XXX for the full amount owed of $4,628.17, due on/before Feb. 10th, 2016."
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SeanMC on January 19, 2016, 11:42:49 AM

Thanks for the alternate viewpoint.

It sounds like regardless of what I sent to them via email, they'd just keep telling me the same thing and that everything I did was "voluntary" blah blah blah. Considering that, what else could I have done differently? Can I just decide not to pay by the deadline they've set and then see if they come after me further? In doing something like that, it seems like they would hold me responsible for additional fees incurred in going after me for this (especially upon signing that key employee agreement and 'locking' myself into it).

I don't know, it sounds risky to try calling their bluff and end up incurring more fees and what I ultimately owe them. I mean, what else could I have said to them if I had told them [in more or less words] "I don't owe you anything. Sorry." (to which they would have responded with the same message back as they already have)?

I honestly don't know. I think starting with a formal "I don't owe you anything, sorry. Don't harass me again about this, or I will refer it to my lawyer" to begin with can help. In some companies, it moves who deals with you (from HR to legal, for example). So the HR admin person who loves their rules and policies can say voluntary all they want but then someone else has to decide whether to actually pursue this in any way. They also have to figure out if they are complying with debt collection practices/laws in how they ask you for $ they think you owe that you dispute.

Some of it is how much risk and hassle you want to take on for the amount of $ involved. Personally - not professionally - I tend to cave very early because I have a very low tolerance and thresh-hold for hassle in my day to day life. This has cost me $$$ that I later on wished I tried harder to fight for. So I'm not trying to tell you that you were wrong or even that I would have done much different!

Also - The part about shifting fees/costs to you is meant to keep you from challenging or disputing it. However, it is only triggered if they are actually proven right that you owe. (If you are correct and they waste $ trying to recover from you, you don't owe THAT). So it changes the stakes for you and makes it riskier to fight. But if you are going to settle or pay once it gets escalated at all, then that's not really a concern (if you offer $ without fees if they release/settle vs. forcing them to go all the way to prove $ to get fees, they likely will not want to keep pushing over the fee issue themselves and risk losing the contract interpretation claim). So I don't think of it as affecting the choice of contesting initially, at least to begin with.

Given the actual amount here, legal fees outweigh benefits to BOTH parties. It's not worth fighting all the way, of course. For the company, though, fighting 1 person can give them the benefit of making 100 people not fight in the future. However, having a public record in which their contract is deemed unenforceable would also be bad for them.

If the question is what to do if you could do the whole thing over again, I think the answer would be in the documentation at the time of the advance termination. The reason I am more optimistic about your legal chances than some other posters is that I view that as potentially having legal meaning, such that your choice to leave cannot be defined as voluntary. It's not clear and it's not nearly as settled as people who are induced into quitting or leaving when it was really constructive termination. But it was something. So in my do-over, that was the point in which to figure out if they intended to keep you until the 1 year time period passed and if they legally admitted that they would not be doing so, to get things released/squared away.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 19, 2016, 11:43:14 AM
I don't know, it seems like you've spent an awful lot of time trying to get out of this.  It seems to me that the employer is in the right here.  You agreed to pay them back if you left before the year is up.  And you are leaving.   

Is it really worth all this work?

Note: if you are in the right, that would be completely different.  My husband and I are known for fighting for small things and large things when we are in the right - incorrect medical bill, a late fee when the bank screwed up, etc.  We'll spend time on $20 because it's the principal.

But this seems pretty cut and dried to me.  Even if you were "possibly" going to be laid off.  You weren't laid off.  You quit.

I haven't spent too much time - just between this thread and the emails it's really not much. Considering I have until February to pay up, I figure it's worth spending some time to research what options, if any, I have (or are left at this rate).

FWIW, regarding "non-competes" here is the portion of the letter explaining the "KEA" and its purpose:

"In consideration of your employment by XXX and in recognition of the fact that as an employee of XXX you have access to confidential information, I ask that you please review and sign the following Key Employee Agreement (the “Agreement”). This Agreement protects the
Company’s legitimate business interests including protecting both the Company and its employees from unfair competition from former employees. This Agreement, when either signed or electronically signed by you, is a binding legal agreement. You are advised to review its terms with your legal advisor before signing it."

Not that it matters or would change anything, but what if I'm working for a non-competitor now?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: olivia on January 20, 2016, 12:30:08 PM
I agree with Sean.  There's no way I would send them a check for ~$5k by February 10th.  They're not going to come repossess your car if you don't pay up by 2/10. Consult a lawyer-they're WAY less expensive than people think.

For example, it was $300 to hire a lawyer to push back against my husband's old company trying to deny his unemployment claim.  The UE was thousands of dollars a month since it's based on salary.  And technically my husband left "voluntarily" in that his new boss told him she would do everything possible to fire him if he didn't take severance and resign.  Fuck them-fight back as hard as you can.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 20, 2016, 12:33:03 PM
I agree with Sean.  There's no way I would send them a check for ~$5k by February 10th.  They're not going to come repossess your car if you don't pay up by 2/10. Consult a lawyer-they're WAY less expensive than people think.

For example, it was $300 to hire a lawyer to push back against my husband's old company trying to deny his unemployment claim.  The UE was thousands of dollars a month since it's based on salary.  And technically my husband left "voluntarily" in that his new boss told him she would do everything possible to fire him if he didn't take severance and resign.  Fuck them-fight back as hard as you can.

Haha, I guess the trick is finding a lawyer who will fight the case (are they really that "cheap"?). I'm not quite sure where to start with this since I've never done anything like this before. My friend, who specializes in real-estate law, is the one who also told me that my chances aren't good here and I don't want to bother her any more.

BTW: if I don't pay up by 2/10, they are saying that I will be responsible for any additional fees incurred via them pursuing this matter further (legally, etc)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: olivia on January 20, 2016, 12:36:23 PM
I agree with Sean.  There's no way I would send them a check for ~$5k by February 10th.  They're not going to come repossess your car if you don't pay up by 2/10. Consult a lawyer-they're WAY less expensive than people think.

For example, it was $300 to hire a lawyer to push back against my husband's old company trying to deny his unemployment claim.  The UE was thousands of dollars a month since it's based on salary.  And technically my husband left "voluntarily" in that his new boss told him she would do everything possible to fire him if he didn't take severance and resign.  Fuck them-fight back as hard as you can.

Haha, I guess the trick is finding a lawyer who will fight the case (are they really that "cheap"?). I'm not quite sure where to start with this since I've never done anything like this before. My friend, who specializes in real-estate law, is the one who also told me that my chances aren't good here and I don't want to bother her any more.

BTW: if I don't pay up by 2/10, they are saying that I will be responsible for any additional fees incurred via them pursuing this matter further (legally, etc)

Ask your lawyer friend to refer you to someone who deals with employment law. To find the UE lawyer I just asked a lawyer friend to refer me to someone who deals with unemployment cases.  He did, and my husband's company backed down immediately.  (They didn't even show up to the UE appeals hearing.) 

Lawyers bill by the hour so unless you get into a protracted trial it's very unlikely that you're going to need to spend thousands of dollars for advice.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 20, 2016, 12:49:09 PM

BTW: if I don't pay up by 2/10, they are saying that I will be responsible for any additional fees incurred via them pursuing this matter further (legally, etc)

That's not really for them to decide.  That MAY end up being true, of course- but if they purse this legally, even if they win, they can't decide to give you their fees, only a judge could.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 20, 2016, 12:51:35 PM
I agree with Sean.  There's no way I would send them a check for ~$5k by February 10th.  They're not going to come repossess your car if you don't pay up by 2/10. Consult a lawyer-they're WAY less expensive than people think.

For example, it was $300 to hire a lawyer to push back against my husband's old company trying to deny his unemployment claim.  The UE was thousands of dollars a month since it's based on salary.  And technically my husband left "voluntarily" in that his new boss told him she would do everything possible to fire him if he didn't take severance and resign.  Fuck them-fight back as hard as you can.

Haha, I guess the trick is finding a lawyer who will fight the case (are they really that "cheap"?). I'm not quite sure where to start with this since I've never done anything like this before. My friend, who specializes in real-estate law, is the one who also told me that my chances aren't good here and I don't want to bother her any more.

BTW: if I don't pay up by 2/10, they are saying that I will be responsible for any additional fees incurred via them pursuing this matter further (legally, etc)

Ask your lawyer friend to refer you to someone who deals with employment law. To find the UE lawyer I just asked a lawyer friend to refer me to someone who deals with unemployment cases.  He did, and my husband's company backed down immediately.  (They didn't even show up to the UE appeals hearing.) 

Lawyers bill by the hour so unless you get into a protracted trial it's very unlikely that you're going to need to spend thousands of dollars for advice.

Thanks! This just reminded me of another friend of ours who is a lawyer and I think employment law might be one of her specialties... I just emailed her husband (who I was friends with first) to ask if she has references. Would be great if she were willing to just step in and help though. We'll see...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 20, 2016, 12:57:19 PM

BTW: if I don't pay up by 2/10, they are saying that I will be responsible for any additional fees incurred via them pursuing this matter further (legally, etc)

That's not really for them to decide.  That MAY end up being true, of course- but if they purse this legally, even if they win, they can't decide to give you their fees, only a judge could.

If this does end up going to court and going that far, I wonder how all this would work given that their jurisdiction is Massachusetts and their policy seems to indicate that if they were to file a claim or counterclaim against me that I would need to be present in the court(s) there per the agreement I signed: "You agree that the exclusive venue for any action seeking declaratory or injunctive relief for violation of this Agreemeent is in the state and/or federal courts located in Massachusetts, and you consent to personal jurisdiction in such courts"
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: soccerluvof4 on January 20, 2016, 12:59:31 PM
I have been following your story here and have been on the employer side of many Employer/Employee differences things like this get me irritated. Having said that I would push it as far as you can as your still pretty early in the game. Black or white there are always gray areas and interpretations that I know I came up on the Employer side losing.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SKL-HOU on January 20, 2016, 02:47:37 PM
If you employment lawyer friend also tells you the same thing (as in employer has the upper hand), I would suck it up and pay. It would have been nice of them to waive (I had similar fees waived for me before) but it seems you pissed them off when you quit, the way you quit. You did give them the standard 2 weeks notice but you were already on leave so it sounds like it left a bad impression with them. Also, with the organizational changes maybe they really cannot waive any fees.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 20, 2016, 02:58:31 PM
If you employment lawyer friend also tells you the same thing (as in employer has the upper hand), I would suck it up and pay. It would have been nice of them to waive (I had similar fees waived for me before) but it seems you pissed them off when you quit, the way you quit. You did give them the standard 2 weeks notice but you were already on leave so it sounds like it left a bad impression with them. Also, with the organizational changes maybe they really cannot waive any fees.

It's possible they were upset with the way I left, but I definitely didn't leave them hanging as far as "transitional duties." If they were "upset," there's little reason to justify it. Now, as far as the organizational changes, it would make more sense that this is the primary reason why they've been so aggressive about this (e.g. they need to do all the can to pinch every little penny they can. after all, a big payout is on the line and coming up for the stakeholders). At the end of the day, it's all speculation... and at this point, I could really care less about *why* they're doing this. Anyway, I'll wait and see what my friends say. I just got another reference for an employment lawyer so I'll get her spin on it as well.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Ricksun on January 20, 2016, 04:57:58 PM
Wow - Interesting thread and I feel for jplee3 for the potential outlay.  However, looking from the company's perspective, they may have been counting on you during the period before your potential advanced termination, else why would they not just release you immediately.  With that in mind, the company should have every entitlement to the investment back.   

That being said, I personally think they're being petty for attempting to recoup it, as $5000 is peanuts to a company that has its own HR and legal counsel...  They may be setting an example/precedent for other employees in the same situation.  I wish you'd share the company name so that I don't go work for them.

Rick
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 20, 2016, 05:08:09 PM
Wow - Interesting thread and I feel for jplee3 for the potential outlay.  However, looking from the company's perspective, they may have been counting on you during the period before your potential advanced termination, else why would they not just release you immediately.  With that in mind, the company should have every entitlement to the investment back.   

That being said, I personally think they're being petty for attempting to recoup it, as $5000 is peanuts to a company that has its own HR and legal counsel...  They may be setting an example/precedent for other employees in the same situation.  I wish you'd share the company name so that I don't go work for them.

Rick

Oh I'll definitely be sure to let you know if you don't know by now :) But first, let's wait a little for more of the 'dust' to settle and see what happens. I'll be discussing this with another lawyer-friend who actually specializes in employment law (although, her husband tells me it's in the public sector...). Depending on what she says, I have another lawyer reference who I am considering speaking with (she has years of experience working at different companies in varied industries, along with currently running her own practice while currently employed by a tech company) - I think she might be able to provide the most 'seasoned' input.
As far as them making an example of me, that could be the case but I'd be hard-pressed to believe there are others that are in the same exact situation (where I was paid out tuition assistance and THEN given advance notice). In fact, what's to stop a current employee with advance termination from taking tuition assistance NOW, and having remittance waived when they are let go? If that's the case, I should have stayed at the company and signed up for more tuition assistance! LOL
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 21, 2016, 07:20:06 AM

If this does end up going to court and going that far, I wonder how all this would work given that their jurisdiction is Massachusetts and their policy seems to indicate that if they were to file a claim or counterclaim against me that I would need to be present in the court(s) there per the agreement I signed: "You agree that the exclusive venue for any action seeking declaratory or injunctive relief for violation of this Agreemeent is in the state and/or federal courts located in Massachusetts, and you consent to personal jurisdiction in such courts"

Well, isn't your entire case that somehow the agreement you signed non-enforceable? It would seem that if they can't enforce the collection, they also shouldn't be able to enforce the jurisdiction.

That's why I don't really understand what you think your case is.  You seem to think that you shouldn't have to do what you agreed to by signing the document, while also thinking the document governs your behavior.

(I just looked at my company's tuition reimbursement agreement- and they also have you sign that if you don't pay on time, not only are you responsible for legal fees to get you to pay; but also the portion of the salaries of the people at the company who are spending their time to try to collect from you.  It would get really expensive really fast to not pay up.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jack on January 21, 2016, 07:29:02 AM
Well, isn't your entire case that somehow the agreement you signed non-enforceable? It would seem that if they can't enforce the collection, they also shouldn't be able to enforce the jurisdiction.

That's why I don't really understand what you think your case is.  You seem to think that you shouldn't have to do what you agreed to by signing the document, while also thinking the document governs your behavior.

In my opinion, his case would be that the clause in the agreement does not apply because his dismissal was in fact not voluntary: the "advance notice" was a genuine lay-off regardless of the weasel-words used. In other words, the case lies in the facts of the situation and interpretation of the layoff notice, not interpretation of the employment agreement.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 21, 2016, 07:54:32 AM
Well, isn't your entire case that somehow the agreement you signed non-enforceable? It would seem that if they can't enforce the collection, they also shouldn't be able to enforce the jurisdiction.

That's why I don't really understand what you think your case is.  You seem to think that you shouldn't have to do what you agreed to by signing the document, while also thinking the document governs your behavior.

In my opinion, his case would be that the clause in the agreement does not apply because his dismissal was in fact not voluntary: the "advance notice" was a genuine lay-off regardless of the weasel-words used. In other words, the case lies in the facts of the situation and interpretation of the layoff notice, not interpretation of the employment agreement.

Okay- that's a good explanation. Thanks

(I don't agree- but it is certainly a place to build a case.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SKL-HOU on January 21, 2016, 08:55:25 AM
I would say his dismissal/quitting was voluntary. Yes he was given an advance termination notice. But look at it from this perspective. If he tried to collect unemployment, can he? At this point he can't (as long as the company disputes and it seems like they would--assuming he hadn't already started working). But if he had waited until the actual termination, he would be laid off and could collect unemployment. The way I see it is when it is on your own timeline, it is called quitting, when it is on the company's timeline, it is called being laid off/fired.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: COlady on January 21, 2016, 09:27:15 AM
What are they going to do of you don't pay it? Sue you?  I'd wait until they escalate the issue further. I wouldn't pay them anything right now.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 21, 2016, 09:31:57 AM
What are they going to do of you don't pay it? Sue you?  I'd wait until they escalate the issue further. I wouldn't pay them anything right now.

I'm pretty sure they could do that. My lawyer-friend initially was saying I could use them sending it to Debt Collections & Credit as a bargaining chip to have them accept a lesser amount, except I think they have an internal dept for that (if it were external, she said those debt collection companies usually take 40% of what the company is going after). In this case, everything seems internal so it seems they could 'afford' to go after me; plus, there's all this legal-speak about how I'd be responsible for any legal fees they incur in pursuing things. My friend didn't quite think the whole "jurisdiction is MA so you must be present for court hearings here" would fly but she's reviewing all the docs I signed and that I were given and will get back to me with her thoughts in a couple days or so. I'm not going to pay up until I've exhausted my current options (asking more lawyers).
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on January 21, 2016, 09:47:37 AM
Back when I worked for a demolitions contractor someone tried to pay me $5,000 to tear down a building that was in their way.

I replied "Naw, you'd have to pay me way more than $5,000 to burn a bridge."

As far as right or wrong goes, you are obligated to pay back this money.  Every company I've ever worked for had a tuition reimbursement program that included language like "if your employment ends for any reason within (time period) you will be obligated to pay the company x% of this reimbursement."

Some of them included additional explanatory material that this would be the case even if you were fired or laid off.

You're assuming that if you had stayed until June they wouldn't have sent a similar letter, and you're probably wrong about that.

I wouldn't blame you for ignoring the letter and not paying, but if you sued them, or if they sued you, I'd rule in their favor.  It isn't a polite thing to do, but their payment of the tuition was due to their and your honest belief that they had a vested interest in your long-term development, and that the company would benefit from that investment.  The agreement you made with them was that if that turned out not to be the case, you would cover their investment.

You agreed to use their money in exchange for covering all of their risk.  They've called in the marker, and the right thing to do is pay.

Even if it isn't the right thing to do, once you involve an attorney they are none of them going to think well towards you.

I would never work with anyone who had sued me ever again.  Ever.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 21, 2016, 10:10:48 AM
Every company I've ever worked for had a tuition reimbursement program that included language like "if your employment ends for any reason within (time period) you will be obligated to pay the company x% of this reimbursement."

Some of them included additional explanatory material that this would be the case even if you were fired or laid off.

You're assuming that if you had stayed until June they wouldn't have sent a similar letter, and you're probably wrong about that.


Wow- your companies are harsh. Everywhere I've worked you only have to repay if you left on your own accord or were terminated with cause (fired, not laid off).  So a layoff means you in the clear- the company decided getting rid of you was more in their favor than keeping you and the knowledge you gained with their monetary investment in your schooling.  So, if the statement he signed is anything like the ones I've signed in the past, staying until June he wouldn't have gotten that letter.

I agree with you though: this is a major bridge to burn. And the amount of money it's over is just not that much at all.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Dicey on January 21, 2016, 11:03:53 AM
I'm starting to think that this is just a sunk cost. You got value from the course that could be helpful to you in the future. I'd repay it, but as slowly as possible. Unless I missed it, I have not seen any discussion that you had to pay it back within "X" amount of time. If that's the case, plead hardship (even if it's only mental) and pay it back as slowly as possible. Let that be your revenge and move along with your life. The awesome thing about being a Mustachian is that while the payback may hurt, it most certainly will not break you.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Jakejake on January 21, 2016, 11:20:46 AM
I wouldn't blame you for ignoring the letter and not paying, but if you sued them, or if they sued you, I'd rule in their favor.  It isn't a polite thing to do, but their payment of the tuition was due to their and your honest belief that they had a vested interest in your long-term development, and that the company would benefit from that investment.  The agreement you made with them was that if that turned out not to be the case, you would cover their investment.

You agreed to use their money in exchange for covering all of their risk.  They've called in the marker, and the right thing to do is pay.

Even if it isn't the right thing to do, once you involve an attorney they are none of them going to think well towards you.

I would never work with anyone who had sued me ever again.  Ever.
I agree with all of this. You're damaging your reputation in the business world by making what I would consider an unreasonable demand, and I'm saying that as someone who has had to pay back tuition in the past. I also think you're setting yourself up to take an ugly hit to your credit rating if there's a judgment against you or this goes into collections, as well as eventually having to pay out way more than the initial amount you owe. This could end up affecting your ability to rent an apartment or costing you a future job opportunity if the employer runs a credit check.

I sued someone in the past, successfully, and the events leading up to it pissed me off so much that I went out of my way to add on extra costs to what they had to reimburse me for. Their idiocy meant instead of paying the original $1000 or so that they owed, they had to pay about double that. If I had a chance to serve them through registered mail vs. a sheriff's deputy for example, I went with the deputy purely because it cost more - so I could stick them with the bill for that too.

That person was, incidentally, a no show in court. That didn't mean the case was dismissed - it just annoyed the judge. Like at one point, he said a thing I was claiming wasn't something he was supposed to award, but since they weren't there to defend themselves he was going to award it anyway. That was about a $500 item.

Even after the judgment, the guy didn't pay me for almost a year. I thought it was a loss. But then he got divorced and he lost his house in the divorce, and he wasn't able to rent an apartment - because of my outstanding judgment against him. That's when he called asking if he could pay it off in cash. I made sure to make that as inconvenient for him as possible. :)

Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: BlueHouse on January 26, 2016, 04:49:15 AM
In my experience, advance notice RIFs are typically given to cause more attrition and reduce the cost of laying more people off in the future. In those instances where companies really need key employees to stay through that period, they often offer monetary incentives such as "if you stay through June, then IF we lay you off, you'll get a bigger severance package than the people being laid off now.
Curious if there was an offer like that? 
Still, I think if it were me I'd just quietly go about my business and forget to pay it back. See if they'll come after you and how hard. Is the company in a business where they already work with collection agencies?  If not, it will be other employees who will have to call you outside of normal job duties, and I can just about promise that no one wants to do that so they'll do a crappy job of it if at all.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 26, 2016, 08:59:52 AM
In my experience, advance notice RIFs are typically given to cause more attrition and reduce the cost of laying more people off in the future. In those instances where companies really need key employees to stay through that period, they often offer monetary incentives such as "if you stay through June, then IF we lay you off, you'll get a bigger severance package than the people being laid off now.
Curious if there was an offer like that? 
Still, I think if it were me I'd just quietly go about my business and forget to pay it back. See if they'll come after you and how hard. Is the company in a business where they already work with collection agencies?  If not, it will be other employees who will have to call you outside of normal job duties, and I can just about promise that no one wants to do that so they'll do a crappy job of it if at all.

This is pretty much *exactly* what the terms were - there was a bonus incentive + severance if we stayed through June but if we decided to "voluntarily" leave earlier, then we would forfeit it.

Interesting take on just "forgetting to pay it back" haha... although, I wonder if they have me in their sights now that I've emailed back and forth with them several times. I *think* the company may have an internal collection department, because on the letter it states the company's name and "Credit & Collections Dept" along with an address that shows the company's name on Google maps.

I dunno, if they were already petty enough to come hard after me with the initial notification, it just doesn't seem like they're going to give up. They even Fedex-overnighted the material to me. And it seems like if they have a dedicated Credit and Collections Dept, this *would* be within their normal job duties.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: nobody123 on January 26, 2016, 11:12:39 AM
Just pay it.  You owe the money, they denied your request to forgive it, so move on.  Every employer pulls a credit report nowadays, do you really want a bad mark on your credit report related to an old employer?  That would be a giant red flag to me if I was interviewing you.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: JoJo on January 26, 2016, 12:28:23 PM
I'd just pay it.  Going to collections means they can add on all kinds of fees and impacts your credit score.  It's a shame you didn't ask for a sign-on bonus from the new job to cover this but it sounds to late for that.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 26, 2016, 12:35:19 PM
I'd just pay it.  Going to collections means they can add on all kinds of fees and impacts your credit score.  It's a shame you didn't ask for a sign-on bonus from the new job to cover this but it sounds to late for that.

I actually did and got one that can technically cover tuition assistance. But when I asked for the sign-on bonus, it was to account for the retention bonus I'd be losing by leaving early (even though it's a fraction of that retention bonus). I'm not sure they would have given me any more of a bonus in that case. So I suppose I could just 'count my losses' and consider the sign-on bonus I got as covering the tuition assistance instead.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: FIREby35 on January 26, 2016, 10:03:48 PM
Again a lawyer but not your lawyer - the defense lawyers are kind of interesting with their "solid claim" stuff. It's law school 101 that when you have the money you have the leverage. They have to take some sort of action to get the money, not the other way around. There is no reason for you to pay them until you absolutely have to. I'd stick to your guns, tell them your position is that they fired you and see what they do. I see no reason to pay until you are served with a law suit.

So, back to the whole idea of a "solid claim," it is funny because it implies you should pay without considering whether the company is actually likely to pursue you to a court. It elevates theoretical over practical. Defense attorneys think like that because they are always involved in a actual case. From the Plaintiff side, I pass on all kinds of cases with solid legal basis but that are not worth the time and effort.

Hold your money and make'm sue you :)

Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: FIREby35 on January 27, 2016, 07:10:54 AM
I'm in court a lot, and I've never seen a similar lawsuit. Companies always put unenforceable terms in their contracts. Plus. OP has an actual defense.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: JAYSLOL on January 27, 2016, 08:36:53 AM
I'm in court a lot, and I've never seen a similar lawsuit. Companies always put unenforceable terms in their contracts. Plus. OP has an actual defense.

I strongly disagree OP has an actual defense (also a lawyer FWIW) but admittedly it's not my area of expertise. I'm unconvinced that just because you haven't seen a similar lawsuit doesn't mean companies aren't winning at the pre-trial stage. In any case, given that the OP got a sign-on bonus from the new company that covers the tuition, and is thus not out of pocket a cent (I don't think the retention bonus is something he's "out" - you get a retention bonus if you stick around, that's the point of it, to incentivize not quitting in december and waiting til June - he quit in December so didn't earn the retention bonus) I'm still really confused why so many people are advising him to fight.

My 2 cents.  The company CHOSE to ignore their own terms of the agreement by giving termination notice within a year of OPs schooling, and the OP never would have been looking for new job otherwise.  Is it the OPs fault that he found a company that wants him right away? 

The main point is that they chose to terminate his contract within a year.  There is an old saying - Once the water is over your head, it doesn't matter how deep it goes.  So what does it matter when he leaves now that they broke the contract and he was already going to be out on his ass before the year was up?

That said, it may still uphold in court on the side of the company, because reasons.  See disclaimer below.

I think it would be very fair for the company and OP to agree to split the cost 50/50 as they both made decisions that lead to this situation.

(disclaimer: I have a complete lack of legal education or experience)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 27, 2016, 09:08:04 AM
Quote
The company CHOSE to ignore their own terms of the agreement by giving termination notice within a year of OPs schooling, and the OP never would have been looking for new job otherwise.  Is it the OPs fault that he found a company that wants him right away? 

A company giving advanced notice of a layoff is generally considered a benefit to the employee- they aren't caught off guard and can instead start looking for a job in their own timeframe, hopefully with the ability to find one before their paycheck disappears.

If the company had terminated (without cause)- then he (likely, I guess it depends on the agreement, mine all state this) wouldn't have to pay it back.  But the company didn't terminate him. They said they would be  terminating him later in the year.  It was the OP who decided the benefit of having a new job outweighed the cost of the payback by leaving early.  (Or actually he didn't, but he should have considered this.)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 27, 2016, 09:46:19 AM
I'm in court a lot, and I've never seen a similar lawsuit. Companies always put unenforceable terms in their contracts. Plus. OP has an actual defense.

I strongly disagree OP has an actual defense (also a lawyer FWIW) but admittedly it's not my area of expertise. I'm unconvinced that just because you haven't seen a similar lawsuit doesn't mean companies aren't winning at the pre-trial stage. In any case, given that the OP got a sign-on bonus from the new company that covers the tuition, and is thus not out of pocket a cent (I don't think the retention bonus is something he's "out" - you get a retention bonus if you stick around, that's the point of it, to incentivize not quitting in december and waiting til June - he quit in December so didn't earn the retention bonus) I'm still really confused why so many people are advising him to fight.

FIREby35, are you in magistrate/small claims court a lot?  Because that's where this dollar value case could land.  Also, it would go through collections beforehand.  I'd be surprised if many of these were not resolved (by payment) before they even got to court -- most people probably wise up before then that they are not going to win.  In addition, as you should know, most summary judgment motions do not get oral argument, so you wouldn't even see these folks in a courtroom -- it's just decided on the papers.

OP has to weigh what this fight is worth to him personally.  IF the company pursues the claim and takes a hard line approach, they will win in court.  The clause is not unenforceable -- this is extremely standard stuff in corporate agreements, and there is very strong presumption in favor of enforcing an unambiguous contract.  Courts routinely enforce these clauses.  If OP gets an attorney who does not warn him of the likelihood that the contract will be enforced and that he will end up paying, that attorney is bordering on malpractice.

For OP, I am glad he tried to fight it, appeal to empathy, and negotiate because his former employer is being a jerk, but in the end, if the company will not budge, they are "right" in the legal sense.  If OP honestly could not afford to pay back the former employer, it would create real hardship for him, or he absolutely would need to pay over an extended time period, then it may make more sense to drag it out.  But under circumstances where the money is not going to break his bank, and he strongly wants to just be done with that company, I personally think it is better to pay back, cut your losses, and move on, rather than dwell within the discordant relationship.  It can be very emotionally draining to put up a fight, so if the cost is not too bad, then just get out of it because he's on the losing side anyway.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: BlueHouse on January 29, 2016, 05:03:59 PM
Again a lawyer but not your lawyer - the defense lawyers are kind of interesting with their "solid claim" stuff. It's law school 101 that when you have the money you have the leverage. They have to take some sort of action to get the money, not the other way around. There is no reason for you to pay them until you absolutely have to. I'd stick to your guns, tell them your position is that they fired you and see what they do. I see no reason to pay until you are served with a law suit.

So, back to the whole idea of a "solid claim," it is funny because it implies you should pay without considering whether the company is actually likely to pursue you to a court. It elevates theoretical over practical. Defense attorneys think like that because they are always involved in a actual case. From the Plaintiff side, I pass on all kinds of cases with solid legal basis but that are not worth the time and effort.

Hold your money and make'm sue you :)
Not only am I not a lawyer, I'm often wrong about a lot of things.  Still, I kind of agree with this just because I think it was pretty crappy to go after you for reimbursement.  Here's the thing:  If they were so positive that they are 100% in the right to require reimbursement, then why didn't they just take it out of your last paycheck?   I think the law is quite clear that employers cannot withhold paychecks, so maybe it's less clear on what you owe them.  And if that's the case, then let em come for you.  Or, if you just want to get it done and over with, after about a month of back and forth, I would make them an offer of a reduced amount and offer to pay the entire reduced amount THAT DAY, if they accept your terms. 
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: LeRainDrop on January 29, 2016, 05:14:50 PM
Here's the thing:  If they were so positive that they are 100% in the right to require reimbursement, then why didn't they just take it out of your last paycheck?   I think the law is quite clear that employers cannot withhold paychecks, so maybe it's less clear on what you owe them.

Why didn't they take it out of his last paycheck?  Because withholding earned wages is illegal.  Even if the circumstances were such that everyone agrees that the employee owes the reimbursement, the employer still could not have legally withheld it from the paycheck.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on January 29, 2016, 05:28:20 PM
Thanks all for the feedback. This is the response I received from my lawyer-friend who does have experience in employment law (more-or-less, I think her conclusion is bent towards *not* prevailing):

"I've reviewed all the documents you provided.  It ticks me off that these companies can require you to sign these Key Employee Agreements - they're all contracts of adhesion ("take it or leave it" - no changes) and would most likely not be valid if a CA court were to review it.  Unfortunately, whether a CA court would be able to review it is also a big question, since they have written MA as the choice of venue as well as choice of law.  On top of that, the matter would go to arbitration (which again, would most likely not be upheld if it were tried in CA). 

[filler here for a suggestion that my friend made that I don't want to publicize in case my former company somehow found this thread and is following it...talk about paranoia]. You could also request a payment plan and see if they're willing to accept.  Then I would follow up my conversation in a confirmation email to whomever you spoke with.

The principle is that they shouldn't be asking for their money back after they've given you an advance termination notice (which is in poor taste, but the fact that they made you and all their key employees sign such a one-sided agreement infuriates me).  However, you'll have to weigh that and the fight of not paying the money against the peace of mind you'll have by not having to worry about this, and see which comes out on top."
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on February 04, 2016, 10:20:31 AM
Just a practical question here - part of the letter says "If XXX has not received reimbursement by Feb 10, 2016, this matter will be referred to our Credit & Collections Dept for further follow up" - does this mean that on that date or past, if they don't have the payment, my credit score/etc will be impacted negatively? Or does that just mean it has gone to that dept and they will follow-up with me further? I've been trying to get a hold of someone from that dept to speak with directly before I send any payment but I keep getting their voicemails and no returned calls upon leaving VMs. This company is really pissing me off.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Rubic on February 04, 2016, 01:49:41 PM
Just a practical question here - part of the letter says "If XXX has not received reimbursement by Feb 10, 2016, this matter will be referred to our Credit & Collections Dept for further follow up" - does this mean that on that date or past, if they don't have the payment, my credit score/etc will be impacted negatively? Or does that just mean it has gone to that dept and they will follow-up with me further? I've been trying to get a hold of someone from that dept to speak with directly before I send any payment but I keep getting their voicemails and no returned calls upon leaving VMs. This company is really pissing me off.

You need to immediately respond to them with a written letter that you have been attempting to contact them to settle this matter.  Document your attempts to contact them via phone.  Make a copy of the letter before you mail it out.

You do not want this matter to go to a collections department.


Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on February 04, 2016, 01:56:22 PM
Just a practical question here - part of the letter says "If XXX has not received reimbursement by Feb 10, 2016, this matter will be referred to our Credit & Collections Dept for further follow up" - does this mean that on that date or past, if they don't have the payment, my credit score/etc will be impacted negatively? Or does that just mean it has gone to that dept and they will follow-up with me further? I've been trying to get a hold of someone from that dept to speak with directly before I send any payment but I keep getting their voicemails and no returned calls upon leaving VMs. This company is really pissing me off.

You need to immediately respond to them with a written letter that you have been attempting to contact them to settle this matter.  Document your attempts to contact them via phone.  Make a copy of the letter before you mail it out.

You do not want this matter to go to a collections department.

As a last resort, I was trying to get a hold of someone in that dept on the phone to appeal to them for a reduced amount but I doubt this will happen considering I've called three times and left VMs all three times with no response in over 24 hours (which is the time frame they say they will respond). I'd imagine they've probably been told to ignore any correspondence from me, or are doing it on their own volition.  At this rate, I think I'll go ahead with sending out the [full] payment. I've lost total respect for the company. As far as burning bridges is concerned, they've done more than their bidding.

BTW: as a side note, someone I told this about had the novel idea of me posting on "gofundme" to help with things lol. Sounds like an interesting idea, but I wonder if the company's legal team would also come after me for doing something like that...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SKL-HOU on February 04, 2016, 03:32:09 PM
Why would you set up a gofundme account for something that you personally owe? It benefited you and it doesn't sound like you don't have the money to pay it off. I'd find that in extreme poor taste. I find gofundme accounts with a few exceptions (health related) very selfish. You don't want to pay for this money you owe so you will ask your friends and family to pay it for you?
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on February 04, 2016, 03:41:07 PM
Why would you set up a gofundme account for something that you personally owe? It benefited you and it doesn't sound like you don't have the money to pay it off. I'd find that in extreme poor taste. I find gofundme accounts with a few exceptions (health related) very selfish. You don't want to pay for this money you owe so you will ask your friends and family to pay it for you?

It was just a suggestion someone made. Yea, looking around at most of the gofundmes, the situations are pretty extreme. I think he might have been making the suggestion half-heartedly/jokingly. I don't think I'll be doing that... on that note, I just dropped off the payment at the post office.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on February 04, 2016, 03:48:41 PM
Why would you set up a gofundme account for something that you personally owe? It benefited you and it doesn't sound like you don't have the money to pay it off. I'd find that in extreme poor taste. I find gofundme accounts with a few exceptions (health related) very selfish. You don't want to pay for this money you owe so you will ask your friends and family to pay it for you?

It was just a suggestion someone made. Yea, looking around at most of the gofundmes, the situations are pretty extreme. I think he might have been making the suggestion half-heartedly/jokingly. I don't think I'll be doing that... on that note, I just dropped off the payment at the post office.

Good for you.  There is a simplicity in taking the honest path.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: SKL-HOU on February 04, 2016, 03:50:47 PM
I think you did the right thing and I hope it comes back to you as good karma (in the form of cash) :)
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: Dicey on February 04, 2016, 04:20:27 PM
Onward and upward...
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: MrFrugalChicago on February 04, 2016, 05:47:31 PM
For what it's worth, I had the same thing happen for me for tuition payback (except no firing was coming). My argument was that my manager at the timer told me I needed an advanced degree, so my college cost was a required business expense and not subject to the payback program. Company didn't want to argue so they sold it to collections. Collections put it on my credit report. I contested and told them my grounds, and that I would defend myself in court.  Credit restrored, not a peep from collections agency.
Title: Re: Former employer billing me per tuition assistance
Post by: jeromedawg on February 04, 2016, 06:02:00 PM
For what it's worth, I had the same thing happen for me for tuition payback (except no firing was coming). My argument was that my manager at the timer told me I needed an advanced degree, so my college cost was a required business expense and not subject to the payback program. Company didn't want to argue so they sold it to collections. Collections put it on my credit report. I contested and told them my grounds, and that I would defend myself in court.  Credit restrored, not a peep from collections agency.

Wow, thanks for sharing. Was your company a big one or smaller? And did they sell it to an external collection agency? My company was playing hardball with not responding to any of my recent correspondence. They also have an internal collection agency (and legal dept) whose full-time jobs are probably dealing with these sorts of issues.