Can an employer revoke vacation time after it has been earned?

My mother-inlaw works in Mesa, AZ as a nurse practitioner for a family practice medical office. She has been employed there for 17 years. She has been earning vacation time the same way and at the same rate for years. She has accumulated 5 weeks of vacation time that she has not used at this point. She went to work two days ago and her employer told her that they are taking all of her vacation time away and that she now has zero vacation time available. Is this legal for them to do? If not, what statute or law would this be covered under? Thanks

1 answer  |  asked Jan 20, 2012 2:06 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
A.R.S.§23-350 defines "wages" to include vacation pay when an employer has a "policy or practice of making such payments." A.R.S. §23-355 allows an employee to recover three times the amount of unpaid wages from an employer. In Schade v. Diethrich, 158 Ariz. 1, 760 P.2d 1050 (1988), the Arizona Supreme Court held that an employee who was promised a severance package and continued working in reliance on that promise was entitled to the severance as "wages." Although the employer can alter its policy at any time, making the alteration retroactive would conflict with the court's analysis in this case.
If your mother's claim is no more than $2,500.00, she can make a wage claim with the Labor Department of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. For a claim that exceeds this amount, I would recommend that she consult with an attorney and make a demand for the unpaid vacation pay or the time off.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jan 21, 2012 5:54 PM [EST]

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