Can an employer pull you from approved vacation to come in work?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can an employer pull you from approved vacation to come in work?

My 63 year old father works for a freight company. He has asthma and had a bad case of pneumonia this year which kept him out of work for 1 week. New Link Destination
day, he started his 7 day approved vacation months after his illness. His boss called him at 12 pm to tell him that he no longer had this vacation week and that he had to come to work. My dad and mom already paid for a non-refundable cruise and flight. They were a day away from leaving and my dad was threatened with termination if he did not return to work. How can we can fight this? Is this legal?

Asked on August 12, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is legal--employers control schedules, and can rearrange them at need, even if it inconveniences employees. They are allowed to manage their businesses, staffing and workflows.
1) They obviously can't charge him for the vacation days.
2) They have to pay him any nonrefundable costs he incurred as a result of relying on their approval or permisson: under the theory of "promissory estoppel," since they made the promise knowing he would likely act or rely on it, incurring costs (e.g. promised him vacation, knowing that as a practical matter means he'd book hotel, flights, etc.), and it was reasonable for him to rely on it (as it was), they are held liable for the costs incurred in response to their promise. If they will not repay him, he could sue for the money.

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