What to do regarding the refusal of benefits/

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What to do regarding the refusal of benefits/

I used to work for a small business and they offered a reimbursement benefit for vision/dental and child care expenses. I submitted all my expenses in the first week of March and they changed the rules right after I submitted the expenses that they will not reimburse vision/dental expenses submitted within 30-60 days of them resigning from the company. Moreover the section in the employee handbook that talks about child care expense reimbursement they offer did not have the 30-60 day clause in there. I have argued that my submissions were before the rule change was put in place in the employee handbook, but the kind of autocratic leadership they have, they refused. It is not a huge amount but ethically they still need to pay it to me. Do I have a case? What is my recourse?

Asked on May 8, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You have a case, but will have to bring it yourself--i.e. sue (such as in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se")--this is not the kind of case that the labor department, for example, would pursue for you.
You would sue based on "breach of contract": on violating the agreement, whether oral (unwritten) or written (such as may be shown by an employee handbook), pursuant to which performed work in exchange for certain compensation and benefits. Even when they can change those benefits--which an employer may generally do if there is no formal written contract locking them in for a defined or set period of time--they can only do so "going forward" or prospectively: they cannot retroactively take away benefits you worked for and earned. So you would sue for your money based on breach of contract, to enforce the then-existing agreement between you and your employer as to benefits.


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