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Steps to Take If You’re Involved in a Vacation Pay Dispute

By Douglas Lipsky

As an employee, you work hard and look forward to the time off that comes with your well-deserved vacation. However, what happens when you’re involved in a vacation pay dispute and your employer fails to provide the compensation you’re entitled to? 

In New York, there are specific laws in place to protect employees’ rights when it comes to vacation pay. If you find yourself in this situation, it takes an experienced unpaid vacation attorney to protect your rights and take action to resolve the dispute. Let’s discuss the steps to take if you’re involved in a vacation pay dispute.

Am I Entitled to Vacation Pay in New York?

First, it’s crucial to understand your entitlement to vacation pay as an employee in New York. While there is no federal law requiring employers to provide paid vacation time, New York state law recognizes that employers who establish a policy to provide paid vacation must honor it. 

If your employer has a policy in place that entitles you to vacation pay, they must follow through with their commitment. However, it’s essential to review your employment contract or the company’s employee handbook to determine the specific terms and conditions regarding vacation pay.

What if I Don’t Use My Vacation Time?

A common question employees have is what happens to their vacation pay if they don’t use their allotted time off. In New York, the law allows employers to establish policies regarding the use and forfeiture of vacation time. 

If your employer has a “use it or lose it” policy, any unused vacation time may be forfeited at the end of a designated period, such as the calendar year. However, some employers may allow employees to carry over unused vacation time into the following year or pay out the accrued vacation time. Understanding your employer’s policy is crucial to determine your rights and entitlements.

What Happens If I Leave the Company With Vacation Pay Owed to Me?

If you’re leaving your job and have accrued vacation time that remains unused, you may be wondering what happens to that vacation pay. In New York, employers are required to pay employees for accrued and unused vacation time upon termination, as long as their policy or agreement specifies the payment. 

However, an employer may have a waiting period before you become eligible for vacation pay or specific requirements that must be met. Review your employment contract or the company’s policy to ensure you understand the terms regarding vacation pay upon termination. If your employer fails to compensate you for your accrued vacation time, it may be considered a wage and hour violation.

Can I File a Lawsuit?

If you’re involved in a vacation pay dispute with your employer, you may consider filing a lawsuit to recover damages. However, it’s crucial to exhaust other avenues before taking legal action. Start by documenting all relevant information, such as your employment contract, company policies, and any communication regarding your vacation pay. Then, consult an experienced employment lawyer to guide you through the next steps. 

Many vacation pay disputes can and should be resolved through open communication and negotiation. If these efforts prove unsuccessful, arbitration or court proceedings may be necessary. Your lawyer can:

  • Provide clear and concise advice tailored to your situation
  • Assess the strength of your claim and potential outcomes
  • Negotiate on your behalf and work toward a fair resolution
  • Represent you in court if needed, building a strong case
  • Protect you from employer retaliation and take legal action if necessary

Above all, an experienced employment lawyer can help you win just compensation. 

The Takeaway

We all expect our employers to treat us fairly, but vacation pay disputes are common. The best way to protect your rights is to work with an accomplished wage-and-hour attorney.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.