I have been working at a this law firm for about 1 month as a full-time employee. When I received my pay-check I saw that I was docked for Memorial Day. No where was it stated in the employee manual that I was not entitled to get paid for legal holiays. I questioned the Comptroller about this, and he told me to speak to the Office Manager. I proceed to write a memo, and gave a copy to the Office Manager, the Partner and the Comptroller. Needless to say, this past Monday I was called into the Comptroller's office and he told me that he is going to pay me for Memorial Day, and he said he is firing me. The grounds that he fired me were "he was insulted that I wrote a memo". Do I have grounds to institute a law suit against this firm? I am livid.

1 answer  |  asked Jun 7, 2005 09:39 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Getting Paid for Hoildays

I really cannot say whether you have a viable claim against your former employer. Providing such opinions is not the purpose, in large part because such an evaluation needs to be based on more facts that you provide in your query. You need to set up an consultation with a qualified attorney.

However, I can provide some general observations about your situation.

First, I assume that you had no contract, and you did not belong to a union. You also worked in the private sector. If all these assumptions are true, you were probably an employee at will, which means that you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, including a reason which may turn out to be false or untrue. You can be fired because a manager feels "you insulted me." It may be petty. It may be unwise, but it is likely not illegal.

Next, there is no obligation under New York law to pay employees for legal holidays. An employer is required to pay you for time worked. If you are a non-exempt employee, that means for the hours you worked. If you are an exempt employee (that is, in most cases, management or professional) that means for the days you worked.

An employer does not even have to treat employees equally, with certain exceptions. So, it is OK for an employer to pay some employees for holidays, but not pay other employees for holidays. However, an employer cannot make distinctions based on protected classifications such as race, national origin, religion, gender, age or handicap.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Jun 7, 2005 3:41 PM [EST]

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