Vacation PTO not on contract as promised

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Vacation PTO not on contract as promised

While being offered a new job, my husband requested two weeks vacation for a trip that has already been planned. The hiring manager was able to approve it. When my husband asked if it should be on the offer letter he said it would be on the contract. When he showed up to work on his first day, it showed up as the two weeks vacation is unpaid vacation. The HR is saying because my husband did not specify that he was requesting PTO they will not pay him for the two weeks. Had he known this, he would have stayed at his old job where he would have gotten the PTO and then had his start date to after our trip. Do we have a case in this situation?

Asked on August 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

In theory, your husband should be able to sue his employer based on "promissory estoppel" to get the two weeks paid, since it would be reasonable to expect the two weeks would have been PTO. Promissory estoppel is a legal theory that can be used to enforce a promise when all the following criteria are met:
1) A promise is made to induce or make you do something (like change jobs);
2) To do that thing, you'd have to do something to your detriment (like leaving an existing job, or switching jobs just before using PTO at the old job);
3) The person making the promise knew, or reasonably (logically) should have known that you would have to do something to your detriment;
4) Despite knowing the above, they made the promise anyway; and
5) It was reasonable for you to rely on the promise (no warning signs or reasons to be suspicious).
Based on what you write, promissory estoppel may apply here. But as stated, to try to get the money, your husband would have to sue his employer, which is obviously a drastic step; you may wish to consider whether, as a practical matter, you're better off working for the overtime, as unfair as that is in some ways, rather than suing your employer.

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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