What to do if my employment contract promises a free one-way airplane ticket but I’m forced to pay for some of it?

UPDATED: May 24, 2011

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What to do if my employment contract promises a free one-way airplane ticket but I’m forced to pay for some of it?

I work for a school in China (sent by an American agency that made the contract). My contract promises a free return airplane ticket (to the US) or the equivalent cash according to prices at the end of June. The time that I want to leave (early July) has seen a “surprising” rise in airfare and I have been forced to pay the difference (which was a lot). The language of the contract says I should be enjoying a free airplane ticket or (if I stay in China) cash equal to the end of June market prices. Am I being wronged? Is this a breach of contract?

Asked on May 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is very difficult to give any guidance on questionsthat involve contractual issues without being able to read the contract in question in its totality.  But I will try my best here.  The way that you have written the clause in the contract on the issues leaves me with a question: was there an assumption under the contract - or maybe even a specific end date - that you would be leaving at the end of June? Does the contract end then?  Then would it be correct to interpret the language to mean that they will pay for a ticket back at the end of the contract in June but if you wish to stay longer they will pay the cash equivalent for a ticket for the end of June?  You have chosen to stay later.  That was a gamble on the airfare prices.  You did not win this gamble.  I would have someone look at the contact for you.  Good luck.

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