Is an employer required to pay for continuing education for an employee if it is paying for continuing education for other employees?

Employer rolled out continuing education requirements this year, though with no real guidelines as to what continuing education looks like. I applied to have my grad school credits covered for marketing courses – I’m the marketing director. Another employee applied to have her master’s courses covered. Hers is for a curriculum design course – she’s the education

director. The company is paying for her courses, but not for mine. Is there a legal ground for having the employer pay for the courses?

Asked on May 31, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that not all employees need be treated the same or even fairly. One employee can receive preferential treatment over another unless such treatment constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination. For example, if you did not have your education paid for due to your race, religion, gender, age (over 40), disability, etc. that would be illegal. Othersise no law has been violated. That is unless failing to pay for your courses breached the terms of an employment contract, union agreement or even company policy. Bottom line, an employer can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit.

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