What to do if at hire I was told my employer would pay for my masters but now it’s reneging on that promise?

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What to do if at hire I was told my employer would pay for my masters but now it’s reneging on that promise?

It’s also in the employee handbook that any employee will be reimbursed for tuition after a year of employment. Now that it has been a year and a half, my employer is claiming that the procedure changed and that I no longer qualify for reimbursement. This has not been shown to me in writing. The reimbursement was a key deciding factor in me choosing this job which I had to sell my house and relocate to. Is there any way this is legal?

Asked on June 24, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Employers may change their police about reimbursement at any time. However, if the employer--

1) Promised you reimbursement before taking the job;

2) That promise was a key or material factor in you taking the job;

3) The employer knew (e.g. because you told them), or logically must have known from the facts, that you would do something signficant to your detriment (like relocating and selling a house) in order to take advantage of the promise and what the promise was made to get you to do (i.e. take the job);

4) and you did do something significant to your job in reliance on that promise

--then you may be able to hold the promise enforceable under the doctrine of "promisssory estoppel." Of course to do this, you'd have to sue your employer, and suing an employer should never be done lightly. You are advised to speak with an attorney in detail about the situation, to fully understand all the ramifications, etc., before acting.


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