Today, it is customary for companies to offer full-time employees paid time off, including vacation days. Because employers in New York are not legally required to offer paid vacation, they have complete discretion in establishing a vacation policy. Those that offer paid vacation, however, may be required to pay unused vacation pay when the employment relationship ends, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. If a former employer has not paid you for accrued vacation time, it is important to know your rights.
Lipsky Lowe LLP routinely represents clients in wage and hour claims, including unpaid vacation. If you have resigned or have been fired from your job, you may be entitled to be paid for any vacation time that was not used. Although employers have a lot of leeway in setting the rules for vacation pay, unpaid vacation is not entirely under their purview. When you consult our NYC employment lawyers, we will be the strength in your corner, fighting to protect your rights.
What are the rules on vacation pay?
Given that state law does not require employers to offer paid vacation, companies are allowed to determine which employees are eligible. Employers often reserve vacation pay for full-time employees, while part-time workers are usually not eligible. On the other hand, employers are prohibited from making paid vacation decisions that violate employment discrimination laws. This means that a company cannot offer vacation time based on an employee’s race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or other protected characteristics.
In addition, employers are free to determine how much paid vacation to offer. Depending on the industry and the employee’s experience level, some companies may offer a few days per year, while others may offer two weeks or more of paid vacation. Companies are also allowed to establish a vacation accrual policy, such as one vacation day per month or a set number of hours for each pay period. Moreover, employers are permitted to limit or cap the amount of vacation time employees can accrue.
Employers can also establish rules that require employees to make vacation requests in advance, limit the amount of time that can be used at once, and also determine when vacation time can be used. In the retail sector, for example, employers often prohibit employees from using vacation time during the holiday season. Finally, employers are also permitted to impose a waiting period on taking vacation days for new employees, such as the first 3 to 6 months on the job.
What are the rules on unused vacation?
I f you had accrued vacation time that wasn’t used when you resign or were terminated, you may be entitled to be paid for that time. In New York, employers are generally required to pay out an employee’s unused vacation time, unless the company has a formal, written policy that specifically forfeits your right to be paid for unused vacation. If the company’s vacation policy is silent on the issue, however, accrued vacation time must be paid out at the end of employment — failing to do so is a form of wage theft.
How Our NYC Wage & Hour Attorney Can Help
When you resign or are fired from a job, you have a right to be treated fairly. If you have not been paid for unused vacation, you have options. Wage and hour claims, including claims for unpaid vacation time, can be brought as a class or collective action. This is because you may have damages that are too small to justify filing an individual action.
Class action lawsuits are brought when a number of people have suffered the same or similar injuries or losses. The combined value of their claims add up, and participants in a class action can recover significant damages as a group. Not only is this a more efficient process, but aggregating small claims into class action can also reduce the cost of litigation.
In a successful wage and hour claim, you can recover damages that include the unpaid vacation time as well as liquidated damages — that is 100 percent of your unused vacation pay. If you are owed $1,000 in vacation, time for example, you can recover an additional $1,000 in liquidated damages. You may also be awarded attorneys fees and legal costs, which means you will not pay any attorneys’ fees to us in advance.
Given that today’s workforce is highly mobile, it is not uncommon for employees to unknowingly forfeit their right to unused vacation pay. When you work with the experienced employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe, you can trust that we will fight for every dollar you deserve. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.