University sues ex-HUP employees after tuition program
Eight lawsuits filed this year over employees failing to meet contractual obligations
February 18, 2013, 11:39 pm·
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania have filed eight lawsuits against former Hospital employees since Jan. 1, 2013.
All eight suits filed in Philadelphia Municipal Court alleged that the employees failed to meet their contractual obligations to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after entering into the Tuition Assistance Benefit Program offered by HUP.
These eight lawsuits follow the 21 filed in 2012 and the 46 filed in 2011 for the same reason. All actions brought in 2013 were filed between Jan. 14 and Jan. 18.
Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the University of Pennsylvania Health System Susan Phillips said in an email that 2,300 employees took advantage of the tuition benefits last year. Active full-time and part-time employees who were employed for at least 180 days and are not in the second or final step of the active disciplinary process are eligible for the program, where they can receive up to $8,000 and $4,000 per calendar year, respectively, for courses.
The purpose of the Tuition Assistance Benefit Program is to provide employees “the opportunity to pursue a formal degree and/or coursework that relates to their current position with UPHS or prepares them for future career opportunities with Penn Medicine,” according to the program’s policy manual.
The policy requires employees to perform at a certain level in their classes, maintaining a “C” in any undergraduate level course and a “B” in any graduate courses.
Additionally, employees who participate in the program must continue to work for either HUP or Penn for 12 months after the completion of their course.
Personnel who do not satisfy these criteria are required to repay HUP for their tuition costs.
The amount at issue in each case ranges from $2,114.54 to $8,267.01, with $5,122.55 as the average amount.
All eight employees against whom the actions are being brought terminated their employment at HUP less than a year after the end of their respective courses.
The plaintiff is now seeking the tuition it paid for each defendant’s education and the “costs of suit and interest available at law,” according to the statements of claim that were filed.
HUP declined to comment on the cases due to their policy. All eight defendants could not be reached for a comment.
Before a lawsuit is filed, however, HUP tries to resolve the issue through several different ways.
According to the Tuition Assistance Benefit Program’s policy, employees are notified when it is determined they have an obligation to pay their tuition balance.
They then have 30 days after notification to make repayment arrangements. If they do not make arrangements to pay their financial obligations within this time, the Corporate Benefits Department will send their account to a collection agency.
“Legal action is the very last resort after attempts are made to work out a repayment,” Phillips said.