I signed a contract with my employer stating that for any and all reasons I am not working at that company before 2 years, I have to pay back x amount of dollars for the cost of training. Now this wasn't a small sum of money, but I got fired for reasons unknown (lack of "performance"). Is this common practice (and/or legal) in Ohio or elsewhere?

closed as off-topic by Philip Kendall, nvoigt, gnat, Lilienthal, The Wandering Dev Manager Aug 28 '16 at 0:38

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    While I'm happy to see a very precise question, I'm afraid legal matters are outside of our scope. You should get a local lawyer. – nvoigt Aug 27 '16 at 13:38
  • I've edited to shift away the focus on legality -- hopefully this brings it on topic. – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 15:16
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    Common practice or not, you read the contract and signed it. Now your only real question is whether the contract terms you agreed to are fundamentally illegal / not enforceable, so you can back out. The lesson here is: Next time you sign a contract, get these types of questions answered before you put your pen on the paper. You will have to contact a lawyer to resolve this, nobody here can really do much of anything besides make you feel better / worse about the situation you're in. – Jason C Aug 27 '16 at 15:17
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    @JasonC totally agree that the OP is responsible for the terms of the contract and should have asked questions, but not everyone has leverage or the luxury to turn down an offer based on onerous terms. I guess that's part of the risk/opportunity. – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 15:26
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    I would be surprised if this was enforceable under the circumstances - but I'm no lawyer, least of all an Ohioan one – Strawberry Aug 27 '16 at 17:37

This site cannot speak to whether or not this is a legal practice.

I do know of at least one time this has happened in Ohio -- a person was let go, changed jobs, and the person's original employer wanted the person (or new employer) to pay for the training.

Asking employees to pay for training when they voluntarily leave is one thing, but it makes no sense when the company releases an employee.

Agreed that a brief meeting with a lawyer would be valuable. The lawyer would be able to advise on the legality and enforceability, which are often two very different things.

Employers sometimes do put essentially illegal clauses in contracts, since they know the employee would have to go to court and pay legal fees to get a judgement in their favor. Often it's easier/cheaper for the employee to go along with a contract clause than try to fight it. And very few want to be the person who sued their last employer.

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    With these terms, an unscrupulous employer could just fire the trainee 23.5 months after the training, getting the advantages of the training for 23 months at zero cost. – gnasher729 Aug 27 '16 at 15:18
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    @gnasher729 yep, seems like a shady practice to me overall.... Should be a cost of doing business. Not all investments pay off. – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 15:27
  • Unfortunately, shady/questionable does not invalidate a contract. If you didn't n like the terms, the time to negotiate them was before signing. Lesson to learn here is that you need to read, understand, and if necessary negotiate a contract before signing it -- and part of negotiation is deciding whether you care enough to be willing to walk away. If you decide to sign, don't complain later about being held to the terms of the contract. – keshlam Aug 27 '16 at 16:31
  • @keshlam agreed. I think it's shady for the employer to put that in the contract in the first place. But once it's in there, you're right, the employee has agreed to it by signing. – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 17:15

You'd need to ask a lawyer about the legality. I have seen a lot of strange things in contracts and normally it's best to abide by them.

However once I leave a job I ignore anything the employer threatens me with. The last couple had sour grapes since many of their clients followed me out. Legal action is a costly exercise and I've never actually been prosecuted but I have been threatened twice. I wasn't sacked either time though, but I'd still ignore it if I was. This is probably your best strategy, don't answer emails, throw letters away unread, don't admit culpability for anything.

It would cost your employer quite a chunk of money (for a risk) just to get the process started against you. The longer you delay the more it costs them up front. If you're going to get prosecuted, then you're going to get prosecuted, there is no need to make it any easier or cheaper for the ex-employer and every reason to delay as long as possible.

  • I agree it's unlikely the employer is going to go so far as bring legal action, but you never know, which is why the OP should probably consult a lawyer on what the likelihood is, before getting rid of documentation. – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 19:55
  • @mcknz It's not documentation unless you read it, until then it's just an envelope a lawyer gave you unsolicited, you're under no obligation to do anything with it. Consulting lawyers costs money, easier said than done and changes nothing, either you get prosecuted or you don't, consulting a lawyer won't change that. – Kilisi Aug 27 '16 at 19:59
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    I don't necessarily disagree, but consulting a lawyer can sometimes buy you peace of mind, if you're very worried about uncertainties. You seem not to mind uncertainty. :) – mcknz Aug 27 '16 at 20:22
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    @gnasher729 I wouldn't spend two cents on anyone threatening me. It just validates their threats in a way. Let them spend the money and live with uncertainty. No point going through life flinching from shadows. – Kilisi Aug 29 '16 at 10:44
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    Yes in Span only government official can enforce financial fees so employers just dont have the authority to do so. It makes perfect sense I believe in all countries where law mean something should be in this way. Just thing about random pointless fees from employers for no reason, That doesn't make any sense. – kifli Aug 29 '16 at 10:46

A regular search, https://www.google.com/?ion=1&espv=2#q=recoup+training+costs+employee+after+firing+them+ohio might help you a little bit.
It appears that the answer is - it depends.
Most of the info is directed at employees who leave voluntarily.

Did you know that a fired employee can sue for wrongful termination? I've seen employers agree to lots of things to avoid that suit. Suits cost a lot of money, especially that one. They may be willing to agree to not be sued and not sue you. This is especially true if it is a large or tiny company.

Regardless of the wording of the question - including the legality part, it is best to get an employment attorney in the state in question.

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    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review – David K Aug 29 '16 at 14:22
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    a) It is not a link-only answer. b) It is a google search link - I pondered using LMGTFY for the link. – MikeP Aug 30 '16 at 15:27

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