Can my employer not pay me for my bereavement pay for my grandfather?

I am a UAW union member and in our contract and employee handbook it is stated we will receive bereavement pay for immediate family, including grandfather… 3 days pay. It’s also stated to provide a obituary to prove relationship. My step-grandfather passed and I provided everything needed to be paid, including an obituary that stated I am a granddaughter to him. However, someone told management that I am not related to him, although I provided proof through the obituary. They are denying me my pay because of what they were told. Do I have any legal merit to receive this pay if I provided the documents that were asked for, no matter if they know he’s my step-grandfather or what they heard?

Asked on September 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, in order to be considered to be a "relative", you would have had to have been related to your "grandfather" by blood or adoption. This is true no matter how close of an emotional bond that you shared with him. Accordingly, your employer has done nothing wrong in denying you bereavement compnsation pay since you are ineligible for it.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A step-grandfather is not legally a grandfather. It may have been as close a relationship as any grandfather-granddaughter relationship, and you truly may be as bereaved as any blood or adopted grandchild, but it is still the case that a step-grandfather is not a grandfather in the eyes of the law. If the policy only is for grandparents and does not say that it includes step-grandparents, then legally they do not have to pay you.

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