Can my employer deny me my paid vacation time when I have earned it?

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Can my employer deny me my paid vacation time when I have earned it?

I let them know months in advance that I was going on a cruise. Less then 2 weeks before I was to leave I was told that I could not go on vacation. Then when I explained that I couldn’t get my money back, my boss stated, “Fine, you can go but you are not allowed to take a vacation at all next year. You have already had 2 vacations this year already”. I then replied, “That was unpaid requested time off. This time I am taking my paid vacation”. He then stated, “I am not paying you for this one either”. I asked, “But I am due my paid vacation time aren’t I?”. He then stated, ” Yes, but at my discretion. You can go but I am not paying you for it”. What should I do or rather, what can I do legally?

Asked on September 28, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Employers do have discretion to tell employees when they may take their paid vacation, and can do so to meet business necessities or schedules. However, they may not effectively prevent employees from ever taking it--such as by declaring that employees cannot take it for an entire year. They also cannot rescind their promise to allow employees to take vacation, if the employee, in reasonable reliance on the promise made plans that can't be changed or  incurred  non-refundable expenses. You may therefore be able to force your employer to pay you for this vacation, but would have to sue to do so if the employer refuses to voluntarily honor its obligations. You need to decide for yourself whether it is worthwhile doing so and going to that level.


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