vesting period for accued vacation to be payable on termination

I was involuntarily terminated from my position as IT Manager on Jan 8, 2004. I had accrued 38.2 hours of vacation time, and this time is documented on my paystubs. When terminating me, my employer told me I was not eligible for a payout of m accrued vacation pay because I was only at the job for 5 months, 3 weeks, and their policy is that you must be with the company 6 months before vacation pay is owed. There is no mention of such a vesting policy in their employee manual, other than this sentence: "You begin to accrue vacation time from your date of hire, but may not take vacation until you have worked at the company for six months." I believe this to be illegal, and have filed a complaint with the DLSE, but I would like to know if I could get a better result by hiring a lawyer. I am interested in getting the money I am owed AND a sizeable penalty and/or judgment against this disgusting employer. Employment was in the state of California from 7/17/03 - 1/8/04. Thanks.

2 answers  |  asked Jan 22, 2004 3:40 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (2)

Janet M. Koehn
vacation pay

marshall, if you want a "sizeable penalty and/or a judgment against this disgusting employer", get a lawyer. you can find others in your area, besides richard (a member) at the california employment lawyers association website, www.celaweb.org.
your dlse proceeding costs you nothing. this appears to be a pretty straightforward violation of labor code 227.3. the right to take a vacation has nothing to do with your right to compensation for accrued vacation upon termination. vacation (or pay in lieu) vests as it accrues. the right to the pay cannot be divested by the device they used, of firing you ten minutes before your right to take a vacation accrued. the two things are entirely different, and the policy you have described is precisely the one that the california supreme court held was illegal, many years ago.
i also believe the policy you have described constitutes an unfair business practice that may open up your case to other claimants. this also warrants your discussing it with an attorney.
good luck
janet m. koehn

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Jan 22, 2004 6:37 PM [EST]
Richard J. Vaznaugh
Vacation pay and Penalty

This sounds like a straight forward case. But, preliminarily I would need to know how much you earned in order to calculate the vacation pay and penalty owed or know if there is enough $$ at stake.

While I will almost certainly be able to get a good settlement, my attorneys fees will need to be paid upfront or as a percenetage of the judgment.

Attorneys fees are recoverable but it doesn't always equal the contingency amount. A couple of years ago I did recover a $26K penalty for a IT security specialist based on $4K in unpaid wages.

Please respond by email or telephone. Sincerely, Richard Vaznaugh -- 415-593-0076

posted by Richard J. Vaznaugh  |  Jan 22, 2004 4:45 PM [EST]

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