Can my employer deny a vacation request?

I have asked for my vacation time on several occasions and have been denied all but one time in my four years of employment. There have been times where I lost all my vacation hours at the end of the year because my employer worked on a use-it-or-lose-it policy. My other coworkers have had their vacation times approved, as well as managers.

Asked on June 19, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes and no.
Yes, in that the employer can deny a request that comes at a bad time for it: i.e. when many others had previously arranged for vacation (so coverage is light); during busy season; when there is  critical project or meeting; etc. 
No in that your vacation is part of your earned compensation: you can't be indefinitely denied the right to use it or worse, be caused to lose it. All the employer can do is require you schedule it when it's not particularly bad for the employer--that's it.
You may wish to speak with your state's department of labor to discuss your options--they may be able to help you. If not, speak with an employment law attorney about bringing legal action. In being denied or losing vacation, you are losing compensation which you worked for an earned; this is fundamentally the same as having money debited from your pay, and can be be equally illegal. You have a right to the compensation you worked for.

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