What can I do if my employer refuses to honor my PTO request?

I gave notice of leaving for another position and asked for the last week off using my accrued PTO, which the manager agreed to. Later the manager reported to the boss that I never asked for the time off. There were actually several times that the manager acknowledged I was taking the week off but when the manager discovered it was against policy, he conveniently didn’t recall my request. I had never filled out paperwork requesting PTO prior to taking it as the paperwork was always retroactive. Now my boss is claiming that I did not request PTO on paper therefore it does not have to be paid. I spent the week packing up my stuff, thinking I was being paid $800 for the week but the final paycheck never came. Do I have any legal recourse? There was also supposed to be a number of hours paid for doing a continuing education class but that too was never paid.

Asked on June 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Idaho


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you had an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, your employer could renege on letting you use your PTO to cover your last week. Further, giving a 2 week notice is a courtesy that, unfortunaetly, need not be honored by an employer. Accordingly, it was perfectly permissable to have you leave immediately, again without a contract or agreement that provided otherwise. The fact is that most employment is "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

An employer can treat your notice that you are leaving as effective immediately; the employer does not need to let you not work after giving notice and while being paid PTO for not working, getting additional pay while heading out the door and after having already said you do not intend to work there anymore. Employers also can rescind permission to use PTO after having given it in the majority of cases. While the way they they said or phrased things to you was not as clear or straightforward as it should have been, you fundamentally do not have a right to use PTO for your last week of work after having given notice and so do not appear to have a claim for this time. In the future, use PTO before giving notice.

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