Prior to being hired at GE in Atlanta, GA, I worked for a major corporation in Indiana. While there, I accepted tuition reimbursement but was recruited out to GE before the commitment expired. Today, nearly 23 months later, I received a call from a collections agency asking me to make arrangements to pay-in-full immediately. It was my understanding that this contract was non-enforceable. I also know of at least one more person in a similar situation who was never sent to collections (this was relocation expenses instead of tuition but similar otherwise).
Why would you think the contract was unenforceable???
Your employer provided you tuition assistance in the expectation that it would receive something (your work for a specified minimum amount of time) in return. You got the tuition assistance, and your employer is entitled to get the work from you that was anticipated, or to have you reimburse the money.
I'm licensed to practice law only in Indiana, so if you're in another state, I can't give you "legal" advice. My answer is simply "friendly" advice based on my experience as an attorney in Indiana, my knowledge of federal and common law, and common sense. Even if you are in Indiana, employment law questions are very fact specific, and based on the limited information you provided in your post, I can't give you legal advice, and my answer is intended as general information only. It doesn't create an attorney-client relationship.
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