Can an employer tell me that I have to change my wedding date because she’ll be on vacation and no one will be able to cover my shift?

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Can an employer tell me that I have to change my wedding date because she’ll be on vacation and no one will be able to cover my shift?

I have a set wedding date for 4 months from now and all I’m asking is a week or even a few days off so i can set up and have my wedding. Both my manager and her manager are telling me that I have to change my set wedding date/ wedding because no one will be able to cover my shift. I just don’t see how this is fair or even alright. Is this okay?

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It's not fair, but it may be legal. As a general matter, an employer has the right to tell employees when they can or cannot use paid time off or otherwise be out from work. The main exception would be if you had asked the company if you could take time off for those dates prior to booking the wedding, the company had told you "yes," and in reliance on that promise that you could take the time off, you *then* booked the days. In that instance, your reasonable reliance on the company's promise or representation that you could take those days could serve to make their promise binding or enforceable under the theory of "promissory estoppel." But if you simply booked the days without clearing or checking it, there is a good chance that the company could tell you those days are not approved, unless it has never been the case that the company has to approve time off (that is, employees could always take any days they want, without managerial approval or confirmation). If the policy was that you could always  take any days, then similar to the above, you may be entitled to rely on that "promise" (expressed in the policy) that you could use any days you wanted.

On the other hand, if the company needs to approve days off and you did not get that approval in advance, they could probably tell  you to change the wedding date, or terminate you if you will not.


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