What are my options when an employer breaks an agreement about paying for tuition?

I entered into a signed agreement with my employer that they would pay for my tuition and books if I agreed to work for them for a period matching the length of my studies. The contract I signed said they were pay for tuition and books as outlined. Originally I planned to take my courses over 5 semesters but condensed my coursework into 3 semesters so I could graduate faster. They are the exact same courses, just in a shorter time span. My employer has already paid for 2 semesters – the spring and fall of this year. Now he says he does not want to pay that much and wants to put a cap of $3000 a year and that I owe $4500 back. After speaking with him about it, he says if I agree to work here for 5 years he will continue to pay. I don’t want to have to continue working somewhere I hate for 5 years. In my head, this contract would be null if he tries to make me pay back money. Could you please advise me what my rights are in regards to this contract and what my options are? I can email a copy of the contract to help as well.

Asked on September 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A contract is enforceable as per its plain terms. If the agreement clearly states that they will pay for your tuition if you are working for them for a matching length of time, they have to do that: if you honor your obligations in a contract, the other side must honor theirs, too. If they won't, you could file a lawsuit for breach of contract and seek a court judgment requiring them to pay the balance of the tuition and without getting repayment from you. If the employer wanted a cap on per-year payment, it could have negotiated that from the start; having failed to do so, it is stuck with the contract it entered into.


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