Can I sue to get reimbursed for the training that my employer promised?

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Can I sue to get reimbursed for the training that my employer promised?

On the hiring interview, I was promised that I would get reimbursed for the driving school costs and expenses as a commercial driver, as long as I kept the receipts. A few weeks into the employment, I presented the driving school receipt to the hiring manager in order to get the expenses reimbursed, he refused to reimburse me because he didn’t know driving school costs that much. I feel misled and he misrepresented his company. I would not have worked for this company, had I known that they won’t cover my school training expenses. Also, I declined offers from other companies to work for this company. Can I sue for more than the school costs? If so, can I still keep my job?

Asked on September 19, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

1) If you relied on their promise of reimbursement in deciding to take the job, you can sue for reimbursement under either or both of two legal theories.
a) It may be breach of contract (either written or oral/unwritten) in that you agreed to take the job if they reimbursed you and they agreed to reimburse you if you took the job and got the training. Since you fulfilled your obligation, they are required to fulfill their obligation and reimburse.
b) When someone intentionally makes a promise that they want you to rely and act on--like taking a good and doing training--and you do in fact rely and act on that promise, the law may enforce the promise under what is called "promissory estoppel."
2) You can't sue for anything beyond the reimbursement, however, since with "employment at will" you cannot prove that you would have kept those other jobs or for how long, or that they wouldn't have cut your pay, etc. Jobs are not guaranteed in this country, so you can't prove what you allegedly lost.
3) You are not, unfortunately, protected from losing your job if you sue your employer. If you were enforcing your rights under labor law, like the FLSA, you would be protected,but this is not a labor law matter.


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