Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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No. Your employer cannot dock you for this short time you were out. They cannot classify you as an exempt salaried employee and then treat you as an hourly employee when it suits them. If they do not pay you for the days, you should contact your state labor board and the federal dept. of labor to file a complaint.
For more information on employer treatment of exempt employees, see http://www.flsa.com/coverage.html.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
If you refuse and the employer does not pay you your salary, even though you are willing to agree to take vacation time, you should file a complaint with your state labor commission and the dept. of labor for the employer's failure to pay your compensation. If the employer retaliates against you, you should have a cause of action against the employer for retaliation.
Unfortunately, some employers are willing to terminate employees who exercise their legal rights, which is also illegal, but done quite regularly. I've heard that some North Carolina courts are very conservative and tend to rule in favor of the employer, so you want to make sure that you are willing to carry through if you assert your rights.
I am sorry there is not an easier way. Take care.