Can I company require and sue for repayment of training?

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Can I company require and sue for repayment of training?

I signed a contract with my employer for training that states we would pay $5000 at a prorated amount if I left within a 24 month time period. Another job has offered me a position, better pay and doing the job I was trained for, and when I gave my two weeks notice the contract was brought up stating that I owe around $3400. I have looked up training costs and find the class and test is around $1000. Plus, the training I received for a crane operator I have rarely used at my job for the 7/8 months as they have a high turnover rate due to bad management in our yard so don’t have the people to have another crane crew which I would operate, that they stated I would be operating. My current employer also stated I needed to repay this amount before I leave the job, within 2 weeks, or they will hire a lawyer and I will have to pay those fees as well. Is this all legal? Is this a penalty for bettering my family’s life?

Asked on December 15, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is legal and it is not a penalty for bettering your family's life: it is a contract you entered into, the same as a lease for a car or a home, a contract for furnace service and oil delivery, an agreement hiring a contractor to expand your house, or any other contract. Even if circumstances change so that you no longer need or want what you contracted for (e.g. a family member gives you a car, so you don't need the leased vehicle; you relocate for work, so you don't need the leased house or apartment; you find a cheaper oil provider; you lose a job and can't afford the home expansion) you are still bound to what you agreed to. You agred to pay $5,000 on  pro rated basis if you depart before 24 months are done; you did not need to sign that agreement (e.g. you could have quit and sought other employment if you did not want to have to sign a repayment agreement) but you did. Having signed the contract, you are held to it--including possibly paying legal fees if they sue you, if the contract says that they can get them in that case.


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