Do public schools have to distribute benefits equally if they were given equally?

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Do public schools have to distribute benefits equally if they were given equally?

Teachers at the school I just retired from are being paid back their accrued personal time off (PTO) days upon retirement if they have taught at the district for 20 or more years, but teachers who have not been with the district for 20 years do not get anything for their accrued personal leave days. I retired after 11 years and they wouldn’t pay me anything for my accrued personal leave. The year before the district paid a retiree of 20+ years for his accrued personal leave. Isn’t this an unequal distribution of an equally given benefit?

Asked on March 9, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Nothing in the law requires *any* payment for accrued but unused paid time off. If an employer--including a school district--does this, it's on account of either a contract of some kind (including a union or collective bargaining agreement) or a voluntarily-taken-on policy. In either event, the contract or policy may provide that employees are treated differently based on length of service, as long as there is no discrimination on the basis of a protected category, such as race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability.

So if you have a contract, the thing to do is to look to the contract--again, including a union or collective bargaining agreement. If you don't have a contract, but the district had a consistently folllowed policy (and had not announced changes to it), look to that policy. That's where you will find the answer.


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