Is an employer obligated to pay earned PTO time to employee’s once terminated?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Is an employer obligated to pay earned PTO time to employee’s once terminated?

I provided my employer with a two week notice and was notified that they would not be paying the paid time off hours earned upon leaving. Is this legal? The employer handbook states that upon termination the employee will be paid any earned vacation time. The employer stated to me that since the terminology had changed from

Asked on May 11, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You most likely do have a case if the employee handbook is clear that vacation time is always paid in situations like your own. If so, the employer adopted a firm policy, pursuant to which you worked, which obligates them to pay the vacation portion of your time (see below) out.
As to the change from "vacation" to "PTO"--courts interpret obligations reasonably. A change only in name will not affect legal obligations: e.g. if the employer changed the term "vacation" to "employee fun time," that would have no effect on the obligation to pay *vacation* out. But in interpreting such obligations reasonably, courts look to what the obligation really was: here, it was to pay out unused vacation time--not unused sick leave, for example. A court, if you were to sue, would most likely try to determine what portion of your PTO was effectively "vacation" (and not, say, sick time) and pay you out for that. They would not pay you out for any portion of the unused time which was likely the equivalent of sick days.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption