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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6786
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Question for Labor Law specialist. An employee resigned

Resolved Question:

Question for Labor Law specialist.

An employee resigned to position with our company, and based on our knowledge she was paid for the number of days accrued from the beginning of the year to her last date of employment. Employee now filed legally against the company and feels that our company should have paid her the entire week which would have been fully accrued on the date of her anniversary which was until December of 2013. We always allowed our employees to take their vacation since the beginning of the year regardless of their anniversary date, would that be an issue for us?

What should we do?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Good afternoon and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I will do everything I can to assist you.

Before I attempt to provide an answer, I'd like to clarify my understanding of the facts. Are you saying that this employee thinks she is entitled to be paid for her entire final week, even though she did not work that time?

If that is what you are saying, can you tell me whether she had an employment contract which addresses this issue? Can you please also tell me whether she was a salaried employee?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.


Yes, employee believes she should have gotten paid for a total of 96 hours, however employee took a total of 56 hours of Paid Vacations which we approved, when she was only entitled to 46.77 hours based on the beginning of the year to her last date of employment.


Vacation policies signed by employee state the following.


At 1 year of employment = 1 week (5 days)


At 3 years of employment =2 weeks (10 days)


At five years of employment = Start adding one additional day per year until the maximum number of days are reached which are 3 weeks (15 days), and will not exceed to more than 15 days for years to follow.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you very much for your reply.

I think I was misunderstanding your question before. It now seems to me that the dispute is simply over how much vacation this employee actually earned. In turn, that dispute hinges upon whether "year of employment" means calendar years or years from the date of hire. It's a question of calculation that hinges on the meaning of that phrase--am I correct?

Thanks for bearing with me.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.


yes

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you again.

Basic rules of contract interpretation dictate that where a contract does not specifically define a term or word, that term or word will be afforded its ordinary and common meaning.

The term "year of employment" would ordinarily be understood to mean from the date of hire, not full calendar year. Thus, it would seem that your employee is most likely correct in calculating their earned vacation based upon years beginning from their anniversary date.

If your contract had specified "calendar years," that would be very different, but as it simply states "years," that is commonly understood to mean "years from the start of employment, not from the start of the new year.

To the extent that additional vacation hours would be owed using this method of calculating "years," an employer in your circumstance should strongly consider paying that additional time, as it is very unlikely a labor board ruling would be in your favor.

I am truly sorry to deliver this bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6786
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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