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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 28090
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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Can my employer force me to use my vacation days holidays

Customer Question

Can my employer force me to use my vacation days for Christmas holidays and let other employees offf without using theirs? I am not wanting to get paid for time off but I dont think it is fair and feel like it is discrimination.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also to add the plant is on shut down during this time
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

Is Christmas a day that you would normally be working if the plant weren't closed? What about everyone else? Do you have a handbook that talks about federal holidays and if so, what does it say?

Are you a member of a minority race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.? Are you over 40?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No we are shut down for the holidays December 19 through January 3rd but 2 us was told we have to work during shut down or we are forced to take our vacation days. I am 64.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you.

That sounds an awful lot like age discrimination, unless your job is something that specifically needs to be done even when the place is closed (and no one else's is). An employer is not allowed to treat an employee different because of his or her age. There aren't any specific laws that would require paying employees for days they do not work, or providing PTO, but an employer who provides PTO or paid holidays must do so fairly to all employees across the board. They don't have to pay you for the days the plant is shut, but they cannot force you to use vacation days when no one else is required to do so. They can ALLOW you to take vacation days to avoid losing pay, but it's your decision.

The only exception, really, would be if they have a policy where unused vacation days are forfeited at the end of the year (again, applied to everyone). In that scenario, it would actually be to your benefit to use the days rather than watch them vanish. That could explain why this isn't an issue with short time employees - because they haven't been there long enough to accrue much vacation time. You may want to check your employee handbook, just to be sure.

Otherwise, talk to your HR department. If you are a member of a union, try talking to your union rep. If neither of those things works, it may help to have a local attorney contact your employer on your behalf.

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