Can an employer put you on Unpaid leave while on paid vacation?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer put you on Unpaid leave while on paid vacation?

while I was on paid vacation, I got a call from HR stating that I was being
placed on unpaid leave due to a possible HIPPA violation. once cleared from the
charges HR states that I would be made whole and paid for my time that I was
being investigated. once i came back to work i noticed that My sick hours were
used for those 4 days while i was being investigated. I have emailed my HR and
they have not responded. I have checked our policies and employee handbook and
cant find anything regarding this. is this legal?

Asked on July 8, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues in what you write:
1) Can they place you on unpaid leave while on paid vacation, if an issue comes up that would cause them to place you on unpaid leave if you were not on vacation at the time? Yes--you being on vacation does not mean your employer cannot take disciplinary action against you.
2) Can they use your sick days when you are not sick or out on medical leave? No. Sick days can be used if you are otherwise on unpaid medical leave but not if medical needs, illness, disability, etc. is not a factor.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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