TX: Can employers require me to use my accrued PTO to cover a an optional team building meeting lasting two days & away from home?

My company takes us all for an off-site event every year. It's at an entertaining city location, and the program spans Thursday - Sunday. It’s optional, but not going is frowned upon. We do team-building and entertainment. The company pays for flights and accommodation, but the employees are expected to cover Thursday and Friday using their accrued vacation time. Spouses and families are not allowed to participate or even be present at the city, and the employees’ time is on a schedule. Can my employer require me to use up my PTO for this? Can they ban families? I only have a handful of days off a year, and it hurts our family. What advice would you give me?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 7, 2019 9:56 PM [EST]  |  applies to Texas

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
Disclaimer: I am licensed only in Ohio and therefore cannot provide a legal answer. If you were in Ohio, I believe that the answer is that an employer can require you to use up vacation for any time away from work. For example, an employer who shuts down a factory for two weeks during the holidays can require employees to use vacation time to cover it. Employees do not like it, but the law does not prohibit it. Therefore, if in Ohio, an employer can probably require its employees to use vacation time for optional company events. If the event is mandatory, though, you would have an argument that you should be paid like any other workday.

Federal anti-discrimination law protects family caregivers from discrimination based on family care obligations. Employers should therefore be sensitive about interfering with family obligations.

Before you bring this up with your employer, though, I highly recommend that you consult with an employment lawyer. There are retaliation issues to consider. You can find Texas employment lawyers in MEL's directory. Another good source is the Texas Employment Lawyer's Association website, https://www.mytela.org/index.cfm?pg=findalawyer.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Aug 8, 2019 08:17 AM [EST]

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