Paladin
Hr Consultant
Rekhadaniel
Hr Consultant
Feeling Trapped
Account Manager
+1 Other

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Hello,

I'm in the middle of an MBA program sponsored by my employer which stipulates that I commit to a certain time period when I graduate, or pay back the tuition. (I am an account manager with a 5 state territory and was the top rep for 2004) Well, my company was recently purchased by a competitor and I have been told by them that my territory will be taken away frm me and covered by the competitor's people. I was also told that I need to apply for a job in another division of the new company, of which there are none in my area, meaning I would have to relocate. I am unable to relocate at this time.

What can I do here? I made this commitment to my employer fully expecting to stick around for many years to come and now that has been taken away from me. In my opinion, this is a downsizing, as I am being released from the sales force that I made the commitment to. Now I'm half way through the program which they commited to and have to deal with this. My questions are: What are my rights as far as paying back what they have paid so far and what can the company legally to to pursue this? What are my rights in pursuing the remaining tuition should I not be able to find a job in their organization and am forced to find work elsewhere? It seems as though this really restricts my abiulity to go out and find work, as this is a significant amount of money hanging over my head. Any advice would be appreciated. (The company is in Tennessee and I am in Louisiana, if that matters).

Thank You,

Mike

From United States, Lafayette
Courts when interpreting restrictive covenants, look into the reasonableness of such covenants. In the event the restrictions imposed are unreasonable, say as to duration i.e. too long a time period or as to the damages i.e. the company demanding excessive damages, court’s tend to strike down such restrictive clauses.



However, from the information available from the mail below, it appears that the company is only seeking a refund of the fees paid by them, which in my opinion is reasonable. As regards duration of his employment, I am unable to comment since no time frame is mentioned. Any requirement which goes beyond two years will not be viewed favourably by the courts.



Coming to the reasons for his leaving the employment, he can argue that he was forced to quit provided he can prove that the alternate employment proposed was not in line with his current position either as regards compensation or designation. However, if his employment contract (like ours) contain any language that, his employment services are transferable to group companies or to an acquiring/acquired or merged entity in the event of any merger or acquisition, irrespective of the location, then he cannot cite the reason o relocation to seek a discharge from the contract.



Employment is a state subject and the laws vary from state to state. However some states are very favourable jurisdictions for employees, therefore my views should not be taken as final, since the particular state could have a contrary view to what I have taken.

From India, Ludhiana
Mike,

Assuming that you are in the state of Louisiana even though your paid out of Tennessee (I don't think this has any effect)- I am expecting that due to the merger or acquisition that there are some differences that would take place.

Can you not speak to you HR contact in regards to this. I know that for several companies I have dealt with as the HR transition manager for mergers and intergrations and mergers that if we offer a position to a "former" employee that he/she does not want to relocate for it there is a severance that is offered and as part of that the TR that was paid out by the company to the date of the merger would be paid out and the severed employee would be pro-rated for the amount paid out.

For example if you you ended your employment voluntary now - you would have to pay back X dollars. Because there is a change to the company depending on years of service we would bridge the differential of your years of service and the back back of X dollars - in the past we used 20-50% depending on years of service. The reason behind why we had employees paying us back is the employer has made full effort in trying to place the ee into a role within the organization and offered relocation.

This has been my experience.

cheers!

Rekha

From United States, Saint Louis
Do you have a written commitment from the former employer (Employer A)? What does it provide for? Does it address the likelihood of merger, acquisition, or other circumstances beyond your control?

From what you've written, you no longer have a territory; you must apply for a job in another division, which would require you to relocate(which you must refuse, at this time); even if you do apply, there is no guarantee that you will be successful in obtaining a position.

Sounds to me that Employer B (the new company) has put you in an untenable position. A Catch-22. I believe that the new management is desirous for you (and other Employer A personnel) to resign. After all, with mergers there are responsibilities which are duplicated, and unless the personnel (and costs) can be assimilated, it has been my experience that the "Old Guard" is subsequently "assigned to other duties" ( forced out). (Do you know of other Employer A personnel "similarly situated", i.e., having their territories assigned to Employer B personnel?)

This may create a Force Major. A situation wherein terms and conditions of a contract/covenant cannot be met due to unforeseen/uncontrollable circumstances.

I suggest you contact an employment attorney immediately.

However, in my layman's opinion, you don't have to pay back any money Employer A has distributed on your behalf. That's the good part.

The bad part is that since you are currently "transient" you have no claim to any moneys/benefits unless and until you are truly employed with Employer B; that they have a tuition reimbursement program for employees, and that you apply and are accepted. Keep in mind that their program may be different from Employer A, in that a percentage distribution is based on grades: A=100%; B=80%; C=70%, less than C=0

Hope this helps.

From United States,
Thank you all for your help. It is invaluable to me to have some insight as to where I stand before I make contact with the company HR managers. It can be fairly intimidating to think about the "worst case scenario" when digging into my situation and confronting the company.
Thanks again.
Mike

From United States, Lafayette
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