About getting fired and receiving vacation benefits

UPDATED: May 30, 2009

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About getting fired and receiving vacation benefits

I was fired from job a week ago, my own fault. Before walking out the door I asked the manager if I would be receiving my VHS, that is vacation time, which i had left of 30 hours. She said I would but when I received my pay check the following week, it wasnt there and I was told that two days ago, a notice came out that said that they were not allowing VHS to be cashed out and basically because I was terminated that I would not be getting mine, is that legal? The memo was put in after I was fired, so I feel that that vacation should be paid to me.

Asked on May 30, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Have other people been paid their vacation time when they've been terminated? If so, and there was no notice of a change in policy prior to your termination, the company has to pay you, too--companies have to be evenhanded, and can't arbitrarily treat one person one way, another person a different way. Nor can they retroactively take away benefits you've earned, such as accrued vacation time.

Note: not all companies treat vacation time as something you "earn" and "own"--i.e. accrue--and therefore will be paid for when you leave. Some companies treat it as a "gift" or "perk" where the only right you have is to use it--you can't cash it out on leaving. However, the important thing is, while changes may be made looking forward or for the future, they can't be made to benefits or pay you've already earned, and they have to treat all employees the same.

So look at what other people who've been terminated have received; also take a look at your employee handbook or benefits manual. If the evidence is clear that your company has paid people for vacation when they've been terminated, or if your employee handbook says they will, then they need to pay you, too.

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