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My husband enrolled on a Becker course a year ago through one…

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My husband enrolled on a...
My husband enrolled on a Becker course a year ago through one of the Big 5 accounting firms he worked for to get his CPA, but did not have a chance to undergo exams. Now, two-and-a-half years later he has put in his resignation. They are asking him to pay back 50 per cent of the course costs as outlined in the terms and conditions he signed. However, upon reading through these terms and conditions, it says nothing about paying it back after two years. This is what it states: IT IS AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
1. In consideration of McGladrey’s reimbursement of certain educational benefits in accordance with the Plan, Employee agrees to remain employed with McGladrey for at least two years.
2. The start date for that repayment clock begins as applicable:
a. From the date of receipt of the educational reimbursement payment,
b. From the date of registration for the Becker CPA review program, if the recipient was already an active employee, or c. From the employee start date for employees receiving Becker CPA program prior to their first day of employment with McGladrey.
3. The parties agree that Employee’s employment with McGladrey is one of at will and is not bound by any written or formal agreements, it is agreed that should the Employee voluntarily terminate employment with McGladrey after receiving education reimbursement benefits, as outlined in the Program, the Employee agrees to repay reimbursements in accordance with the schedule as indicated in Paragraph 3 and 4.
4. If the Employee voluntarily terminates employment with McGladrey prior to two (2) years from the date of reimbursement, Employee will repay McGladrey for any and all reimbursements paid by McGladrey under the Program according to the following schedule:
However, it states in a box the following: Length of Service From Date of Reimbursement Amount
Less than 1 Year 100%
More than 1 Year but less than 2 Years 50%
Since my husband has been there more than 2 years should they not state the amount after two years? Does he have any rights or does he have to pay it back? They want to take it our of his PTO..
Submitted: 3 years ago.Category: California Employment Law
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6/23/2015
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 3 years ago
Patrick, Esq.
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 14,543
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
I understand that your husband enrolled in the program more than two years before he resigned, but did your husbands employer PAY for him to undergo the program more than two years before he resigned?
I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
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Customer reply replied 3 years ago
Hi Patrick. Thanks so much for replying!He purchased the programme in January 24th 2014. They paid for him to undergo the programme less than 2 years before he resgigned. He is now in his last week of employment with the company..
Customer reply replied 3 years ago
Does the above information make a difference at all..or does this mean he would have to pay them back..?
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 3 years ago
Thank you,
Sorry for the delay. I am reviewing everything and will post my response momentarily....
Ask Your Own California Employment Law Question
Customer reply replied 3 years ago
Okay thanks so much!
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 3 years ago
Thank you for your patience.
The contract requires repayment if the employee fails to "remain employed for two years." However, the contract is ambiguous as to when that two year period begins running. On one hand, the agreement provides that "The start date for that repayment clock begins . . . .From the date of registration for the Becker CPA review program, if the recipient was already an active employee." (I take it that your husband was already an employee at the time he enrolled as you state that he enrolled " through one of the Big 5 accounting firms he worked for.") Note that this clause does is not limited to "terminations," so it arguably applies to both terminations and voluntary quits. Since your husband enrolled more than two years ago, the above clause would seem to indicate that the two year period in which any reimbursement obligation could be triggered has expired and, thus, there is no repayment obligation at all.
However, there is another arguably contradictory clause below: "If the Employee voluntarily terminates employment . . .prior to two (2) years from the date of reimbursement, Employee will repay for any and all reimbursements" according to the schedule you provided.
This clause SPECIFICALLY references "voluntary termination," and it appears to define the "two year period" differently as beginning to run on the date of "reimbursement" for the program rather than from the date of "registration," as the previous clause does. This is a significant difference because it seems your husband ENROLLED more than two years before he quit but that he did not get reimbursed for the program until later. He was reimbursed within two yeas of quitting, and so would be liable to repay under THIS clause pursuant to the repayment schedule you quoted."
It is difficult to predict with any certainty how this discrepancy would be resolved. However, courts generally try to resolve ambiguities in contracts in ways that do not create inherent contradictions within the contracts. Thus, since the first clause does not specify whether it applies to terminations or resignations and the second clause specifically indicates that it applies to resignations, a court would probably be more likely to interpret the first clause as applying to terminations and the second to resignations. This way, the clauses are harmonious and not contradictory to one and other. According to this interpretation, an individual in your husband's circumstance would be required to pay back what he received pursuant to the repayment schedule quoted, using the date he RECEIVED his reimbursement for the program as the start date for the two year period.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
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California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 3 years ago
Was I able to answer your question? I have not heard back from you. Please let me know if I can provide any clarification.....
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