What is my legal recourse for corporate education benefits promised but then denied?

Work as a government contractor for an IT company that highlighted generous education assistance benefits to me as a potential hire. Due in large measure to those benefits, I was hired, then applied for those benefits, which where included in my contract. My application was denied for lack of justification. I wrote a lengthy defense of my qualifications and detailed justification, but was denied again after re-submitting, based on a gross misrepresentation of the company policy. They blatantly twisted policy wording to raise the bar for qualification.

Asked on July 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may have a legal claim, and may therefore have grounds to sue. First, you indicate that there is a contract; if there is, not only is the contract enforceable, but parties to a contract (like your employer) are obligated to act in good faith in regards to the other parties to the contract (this is called the "implied covenant of good faith). Second, if you either relocated or left an existing job to take this job, based in large part of a representation that you would receive educational benefits, your "detrimental reliance" on that representation may preclude them from disclaiming or dishonoring their promises, under the theory of "promissory estoppel." From what you write, it would be worthwhile for you to consult with an employment law attorney about your options.

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