Can an employer revoke approved comp time?

I had my comp time approved by a manager that is no longer at the company anymore. The vacation was planned around the comp time, and now the managment is saying he can’t honor the full comp time but maybe half. I am using a combination of accrued vacation and comp time. I have the approval in writing (email). What grounds do I have to stand on?

Asked on September 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You seem to have two different grounds to stand on:

1) Contract: if you performed work pursuant to an agreement that you would receive comp time for it, that is a contract and the company must honor it.

2) Promissory estoppel: when somone promises a benefit to you (like comp time) and you do something to your detriment (like scheduling a vacation) around that promise, and the promisor knew or reasonably should have known that you'd do something to your detriment (like rely on the promise of comp time to schedule a vacaction), that "detrimental reliance" of yours can "estop" (or prevent) the promisor (your company) from denying its promise.

In a case like this, where the time was approved in writing by management, the company needs to honor it. It is free to change it's policy going forward and not approve or allow comp time in the future, if it wants.


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