Very interesting question.Law
Vacation pay is treated the same as all other forms of compensation at termination; i.e., accrued vacation pay must be paid to the employee immediately upon an employer-initiated termination and within 72 hours of an employee's resignation. Ca Labor Code §§ 201-202.
The employer must compensate the terminating employee for unused vested vacation time: "(A)n employment contract or employer shall not provide for forfeiture of vested vacation time upon termination." Ca Labor Code § 227.3; see Suastez v. Plastic Dress-Up Co. (1982) 31 Cal.3d 774, 779.
Because vacation pay is a form of deferred wages for services rendered, a proportionate right to a paid vacation "vests" as the labor is rendered. Once vested, the right is protected from forfeiture by Ca Labor § 227.3. Suastez v. Plastic Dress-Up Co., supra, 31 Cal.3d at 784.
Although employers may not require an employee to forfeit vested vacation pay, the employment agreement may place a legitimate "cap" on accrual of vacation pay after which no further vacation will accrue. See Boothby v. Atlas Mechanical, Inc. (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1595, 1602-1603. QuestionI was wondering if I am to be paid out for all accured hours of PTO, including banked hours, as per the Labor Laws in the state of Californina? Or did I forfeit that right by moving to Washington ?
A: The fact that you had an employment contract in California means that you are entitled to the benefit of that contract, even if you move somewhere else -- as long as the courts of the place in which you moved are willing to enforce your rights -- and if they are not, then assuming your employer continues to do business in California, then you can sue them in a California court to enforce those rights.
Once you moved to Washington, the vacation rules could be changed going forward, for any new vacation accrued. So, if the employer's policies in Washington are different, then you are subject to those polices -- but not to the extent that you already earned vacation time in California.
The analogy would be the same if you bought a car in California and were entitled to a warranty under California law that doesn't exist in Washington (which is true, because California's "Lemon Law" is different than Washington's). If you can't enforce the warranty in Washington, that doesn't stop you from driving the car back to California and then enforcing the warranty there.
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