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Old 08-28-2019, 07:23 AM   #1  
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Default Employment contract

I've signed an employment contract with my current employer but I have a pretty good opportunity to go elsewhere. I'm wondering if I can get some advice as to whether or not the contract can be enforced. It's not pro-rated for time already employed.
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Old 08-28-2019, 07:58 AM   #2  
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Originally Posted by LFroese View Post
I've signed an employment contract with my current employer but I have a pretty good opportunity to go elsewhere. I'm wondering if I can get some advice as to whether or not the contract can be enforced. It's not pro-rated for time already employed.
A training contract? Here’s one thread on the subject:

https://www.airlinepilotforums.com/a...ct-help-9.html
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:01 AM   #3  
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That would depend on the contract and the legal venue (ie state). Probably need a local lawyer to answer that.

If you're looking at major airlines long term, they will not want to see bad credit or judgements against you. Or a bad reference from a previous employer.
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Old 08-28-2019, 01:16 PM   #4  
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I am not a lawyer, but from everything I've read, most of these contracts are NOT legally enforceable, UNLESS they are giving you something that is optional such as bonus money, or tuition reimbursement, or maybe a type rating. Something that has material value and/or is portable for employment elsewhere.

Case law strongly has ruled against employers who take the stance that employees should be responsible for training costs, when such training costs are mandatory for the job. That is simply the cost of doing business. As I stated above, only when voluntary (eg. bonus or tuition reimbursement) have the courts been sympathetic to the employers.

Furthermore, the vast majority of these "training contracts" have arbitrary amounts of $$ and for an arbitraty length of time, and are not based on how long one must actually work for them to recoup their initial training investment. The heavy odds are that most courts will not be sympathetic to the employer if the $$ and length of term they put on the contract is nowhere near the actual costs and time to recoup it.

Lastly, in order for them to be able to have an enforceable deliquency to send to a collection agency, they must first go to court to get a judgement against the pilot. Its not like they can automatically and unilaterally degrade ones credit score just because they claim you didn't pay, otherwise almost anyone could do this to those they didn't like.

Again, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice at all, but Ive garnered this information from pilots who've flown part 135 and other segments of the industry for many many years
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Old 08-28-2019, 01:21 PM   #5  
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Originally Posted by LFroese View Post
I've signed an employment contract with my current employer but I have a pretty good opportunity to go elsewhere. I'm wondering if I can get some advice as to whether or not the contract can be enforced. It's not pro-rated for time already employed.
IOW: Can you welsh and get away with it?
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:36 PM   #6  
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Originally Posted by Bahamasflyer View Post
I am not a lawyer, but from everything I've read, most of these contracts are NOT legally enforceable, UNLESS they are giving you something that is optional such as bonus money, or tuition reimbursement, or maybe a type rating. Something that has material value and/or is portable for employment elsewhere.

Case law strongly has ruled against employers who take the stance that employees should be responsible for training costs, when such training costs are mandatory for the job. That is simply the cost of doing business. As I stated above, only when voluntary (eg. bonus or tuition reimbursement) have the courts been sympathetic to the employers.

Furthermore, the vast majority of these "training contracts" have arbitrary amounts of $$ and for an arbitraty length of time, and are not based on how long one must actually work for them to recoup their initial training investment. The heavy odds are that most courts will not be sympathetic to the employer if the $$ and length of term they put on the contract is nowhere near the actual costs and time to recoup it.

Lastly, in order for them to be able to have an enforceable deliquency to send to a collection agency, they must first go to court to get a judgement against the pilot. Its not like they can automatically and unilaterally degrade ones credit score just because they claim you didn't pay, otherwise almost anyone could do this to those they didn't like.

Again, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice at all, but Ive garnered this information from pilots who've flown part 135 and other segments of the industry for many many years

Wow! Incredibly BAD advice. Training contracts ARE legal in many states:

https://www.noncompetereport.com/201...public-policy/

https://www.thelelawblog.com/2016/02...raining-costs/

https://www.aerlex.com/can-an-employ...es-another-job

Now that's just California - your state may be different because state law governs.

For that matter, even if the costs of going to court to enforce the contract make doing so uneconomic, the employer can certainly FIRE an employee for not living up to his/her contract and notify all future employers who inquire that the employee was terminated for breach of contract.

A simple statement of fact - employee refused to comply with training contract he/she signed - will FOREVER put you in the position of having to justify this to potential future employers. Most of them will opt to pick the other person, and there will almost always be an other person for any desirable job.

It's a whole lot better idea to not sign contracts you are unwilling to comply with.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:45 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by Excargodog View Post
Wow! Incredibly BAD advice. Training contracts ARE legal in many states:

https://www.noncompetereport.com/201...public-policy/

https://www.thelelawblog.com/2016/02...raining-costs/

https://www.aerlex.com/can-an-employ...es-another-job

Now that's just California - your state may be different because state law governs.

For that matter, even if the costs of going to court to enforce the contract make doing so uneconomic, the employer can certainly FIRE an employee for not living up to his/her contract and notify all future employers who inquire that the employee was terminated for breach of contract.

A simple statement of fact - employee refused to comply with training contract he/she signed - will FOREVER put you in the position of having to justify this to potential future employers. Most of them will opt to pick the other person, and there will almost always be an other person for any desirable job.

It's a whole lot better idea to not sign contracts you are unwilling to comply with.

Add this to the above. Two year old Arizona Court of Appeals case regarding Mesa training contract:

https://www.courtlistener.com/opinio...nes-v-condron/
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:27 AM   #8  
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Sorry, but those cases are apples vs oranges to what the OP is asking and the examples I'm listing.

Those cases, as well as the Mesa one you linked, are completely different because those cases involved either the employee taking bonus money (voluntary) or tuition reimbursement (also voluntary).

Before you responded I made it very clear that those situations would indeed likely cause courts to rule in favor of the employers.

Myself and the OP are talking about employers demanding reimbursement for costs that are MANDATORY for employment. Not only mandatory in terms of company policy, but also required by the FAA for training.

Two totally different scenarios.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Excargodog View Post

For that matter, even if the costs of going to court to enforce the contract make doing so uneconomic, the employer can certainly FIRE an employee for not living up to his/her contract
No argument there. Absolutely true that one can be terminated for not following company policy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Excargodog View Post
and notify all future employers who inquire that the employee was terminated for breach of contract.
WRONG!

There are very few things that past employers can share with applicants present/future employers.......legally at least, unless they want to risk a massive libel or slander lawsuit.

Name, dates worked, position, salary, and eligibility for rehire (a simple yes/no, nothing more) is pretty much it. Some will only share title and dates worked and nothing more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Excargodog View Post
It's a whole lot better idea to not sign contracts you are unwilling to comply with.
Absolutely true.
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Old 08-29-2019, 05:38 AM   #9  
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Originally Posted by Bahamasflyer View Post
Sorry, but those cases are apples vs oranges to what the OP is asking and the examples I'm listing.

Those cases, as well as the Mesa one you linked, are completely different because those cases involved either the employee taking bonus money (voluntary) or tuition reimbursement (also voluntary).

Before you responded I made it very clear that those situations would indeed likely cause courts to rule in favor of the employers.

Myself and the OP are talking about employers demanding reimbursement for costs that are MANDATORY for employment. Not only mandatory in terms of company policy, but also required by the FAA for training.

Two totally different scenarios.



No argument there. Absolutely true that one can be terminated for not following company policy.



WRONG!

There are very few things that past employers can share with applicants present/future employers.......legally at least, unless they want to risk a massive libel or slander lawsuit.

Name, dates worked, position, salary, and eligibility for rehire (a simple yes/no, nothing more) is pretty much it. Some will only share title and dates worked and nothing more.



Absolutely true.
But in this case you can easily win the battle and lose the war.

Majors (and most other aviation employers) hire pilots based on their reliability, conservatism, skills, and experience. Few are looking for skilled and aggressive defendants (or plaintiffs), or those with colorful credit histories... that kind of thing will make you stand out in stark contrast to the rank and file of pilot job applicants.
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:06 AM   #10  
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Originally Posted by Bahamasflyer View Post
Sorry, but those cases are apples vs oranges to what the OP is asking and the examples I'm listing.

Those cases, as well as the Mesa one you linked, are completely different because those cases involved either the employee taking bonus money (voluntary) or tuition reimbursement (also voluntary).

Before you responded I made it very clear that those situations would indeed likely cause courts to rule in favor of the employers.

Myself and the OP are talking about employers demanding reimbursement for costs that are MANDATORY for employment. Not only mandatory in terms of company policy, but also required by the FAA for training.

Two totally different scenarios.
Excuse me, but did you even READ the Mesa case? It absolutely WAS NOT a totally different scenario.

A few excerpts:

Quote:
On September 4, 2014, Mesa Airlines hired Condron as a
prospective EMB 175 First Officer, with the understanding that he would
be part of a crew that would fly the Embraer 175 aircraft. Mesa Airlines
requires all employees who operate an EMB 175 aircraft be trained in
accordance with its Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) approved
training program. At the time of his hire, Condron did not have the
requisite FAA rating; accordingly, Mesa Airlines offered Condron the
training necessary to comply with company policy and to qualify for the
FAA rating.
Quote:
Mesa Airlines offers such pilots the required training in exchange
for execution of a promissory note to be paid: in full upon demand, by
completion of twelve months’ employment, or by a combination of the two.
Thus, the CBA expressly allows Mesa Airlines to require new and/or less
experienced pilots to reimburse Mesa Airlines for the cost of such training
by signing the Note in a set amount. The CBA also provides that the balance
owed “will be subject to straight line amortization beginning from the date
of successful completion of the check ride,” declining to zero at the end of twelve months, and reduced by half if a pilot gives forty-five days’ notice
of his resignation.

¶4 As relevant here, the CBA sets the amount owed for the
training provided to Condron at $11,470.00 and requires the amount to
increase annually with the Consumer Price Index.1 Consistent with the
amortization provision of the CBA, the Note further provides that Condron
receive “credit against the principal amount of the Note based on the length
of [his] service” with Mesa Airlines.
Quote:
¶5 Condron signed the Note on September 3, 2014. After signing
the Note, Condron was officially hired, completed the training, and
eventually flew as a first officer under the supervision of a line check
airman. He resigned after flying only twelve hours for Mesa Airlines.2
Quote:
Condron notified Mesa Airlines on December 5, 2014, that he had
accepted other employment and was resigning effective December 19, 2014.
Mesa Airlines deducted $764.08 from Condron’s final
paycheck, pursuant to the Note’s terms, and demanded Condron pay the
remaining balance on the Note. Condron did not comply with the demand,
and Mesa Airlines sued Condron for breach of contract. The parties filed
cross motions for summary judgment.

¶7 Following oral argument, the superior court found the Note
was a “stand-alone promissory note without any accompanying
employment agreement.” The court considered, but expressly rejected,
Condron’s argument that the Note’s principal amount was similar to a
liquidated damages provision and operated as an unenforceable penalty.
Accordingly, the court denied Condron’s motion and granted summary
judgment in favor of Mesa Airlines.



¶9 The superior court denied Condron’s motion for
reconsideration, and in doing so, noted the case was “a freedom of contract
case,” and that no statute prohibited Mesa Airlines from charging Condron
for the expense of providing the requisite training. The court further found
in the alternative that even if one erroneously assumed that “the
promissory note impaired Condron’s right to terminate an at-will
employment arrangement . . . that is a result to which he voluntarily
assented, and it is well-understood that statutory, indeed even
constitutional rights designed for an individual’s protection can be
waived.” The court awarded costs and attorneys’ fees to Mesa Airlines in
its final judgment
.
Quote:
CONCLUSION

¶27 The superior court’s summary judgment in favor of Mesa
Airlines is affirmed.
So, at least in the state of Arizona, you are absolutely WRONG. This was a training contract for INITIAL FAA REQUIRED TRAINING. Specifically, it was for a type rating and Indoc training that the defendant DID NOT HAVE. It was specifically for training costs, not for a bonus, RTP training, or flying hours necessary to qualify for the ATP. It was for his indoc and type rating.

The pilot lost initially and he lost on appeal. And THAT has been the history in all of these cases. Granted, oftentimes the employer just lets it go because the sums involved don’t warrant the effort, but any one of these cases can go to trial, and then what happens?

Easy. Every single background check that is ever done on these individuals is going to show that they reneged on a contract with their employer.

If you don’t think that is going to adversely affect their employability, then more fool you.

Moreover, if you actually READ the other articles, it shows training contracts to be enforceable in California as well. As for libel or slander, truth is an absolute bar to winning cases for either of those. Saying someone reneged on a contract when they actually DID renege on a contract is legal in all jurisdictions of the US.

Last edited by Excargodog; 08-29-2019 at 07:30 AM.
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