Do I need to repay my Tuition Reimbursement?

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Do I need to repay my Tuition Reimbursement?

I was recently terminated from my job and have just received a letter asking for
tuition reimbursement repayment. Under the terms that I signed it states ‘If your
employment is terminated due to death, business disposition, or the end of
protected service following disability layoff or plant closing, each as defined
by the company in its sole discretion, at any time before or after the completion
of the course, you will not be required to repay any portion of the Tuition
Benefit…’ Do I have any legal ground to fight this?

Asked on August 9, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the agreement you signed regarding tuition reimbursement only allows you to not repay if "your employment is terminated due to death, business disposition, or the end of protected service following disability layoff or plant closing, each as defined by the company in its sole discretion," then you would, based on what you right, have to repay the tuition unless and only if the termination was due to one of those defined reasons. Otherwise, it is legal for employers to require tuition reimbursement, as long as that was the agreement when the employee agreed to accept payment of tuition; an agreement about if and when to reimburse tuition is legal and enforceable, so if under the terms of the agreement,  you have to repay when you were terminated for the reason you were terminated, then you do have to repay. A typical termination or firing, such as for poor performance, absenteeism, violating company policy, insubordiantion, etc. would not be one of the quoted reasons, so the typical termination would require repayment.
 
 


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