There are certain situations in which you are protected if you take leave.
A summer vacation is a rite of passage in the United States. Whether you head to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere else entirely, getting away from the stress of everyday life is good for your soul. Yet many Americans are unable to take vacation, either due to finances, or simply because they don’t have paid vacation days.
But what if you can afford to take vacation? Is your job protected if you decide to take vacation to relax and recharge? According to a seasoned employment lawyer, the short answer is no. There is no law that requires employers to give employees paid vacation time — and some companies might even terminate workers if they take trips at inopportune times.
Vacations are good for employees, and they actually benefits employers as well. When people get a chance to take a break, they’re happier and more productive when they return. Most employers won’t fire employees who take a vacation — but it can happen, particularly in the United States, where the majority of non-union employees are at-will, which means that you can be fired for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason (such as because of your race or gender).
However, according to a knowledgable employment lawyer, there are some situations where an employer cannot fire an employee for taking leave. For example, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, more commonly referred to as FMLA, employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave for their own medical issues or to take care of an immediate family member. Employers must allow employees to use their paid sick and vacation time first before going on unpaid leave.
In addition, employees who are under contract — which may include workers who are members of a union as well as more highly skilled, specialized employees, such as CEOs — may be protected. In many cases, their contracts may specify that they are entitled to vacation time. Similarly, if an employer has an established vacation policy for all employees, it may be considered an employee welfare benefit plan covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). If so, then it may be illegal to retaliate against an employee for exercising that right.
If an employer discriminates against certain employees when it comes to vacations on the basis of protected categories, that may also be considered illegal. For example, if an employer allows younger employees to take vacation time, but denies the same right to older employees, that could be a form of illegal age discrimination. However, other forms of favoritism, such as allowing the boss or supervisors to take vacation but not lower level workers, is not illegal.
Finally, some states do have additional protections for employees when it comes to taking vacation time. An experienced employment lawyer in your state, such as the lawyers of PLBH (with offices in both California and Arizona), can advise you of your rights.
Understanding your rights as an employee is critical to protecting yourself. When in doubt, consult with an employment lawyer to learn more about what your employer can and cannot do — and how you can seek justice if your employer has illegally terminated you, retaliated against you or otherwise treated you unfairly under the law.
At PLBH, we are committed to helping employees get justice. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a skilled employment lawyer.