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wallstreetfighter
wallstreetfighter, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17252
Experience:  14 years exp, General counsel for National Corp. firms, Hostos College instructor, Represented employees in discrimination lawsuits
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I have a new employer and they seem to have some odd practices

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I have a new employer and they seem to have some odd practices regarding vacation and overtime that I'm not certain are legal. I am in the state of Minnesota and I am a salaried employee. Three hours of paid time off is part of my employment package (documented in offer letter).
For the last six months of 2012, they required us to all put in a mandatory 50 hour week and then also mandated randomly when some of us had to work weekends. They stated that because we are salaried employees, it is not necessary for them to compensate us in any way for any of this overtime.
As of 2013, the company changed their policy on how many hours you can carry into the next year. For many of my co-workers who are long time employees, this means they have a lot of "use it or lose it time". Today, we just received a notice that any requests for PTO for the remainder of the year may be denied and that we must show proof of loss (tickets purchased, etc.) for any exceptions.
Are either of these practices legal?

wallstreetfighter :

Hello I am a licensed attorney here to help you with your question, please review my response and do not hesitate to ask for clarification

wallstreetfighter :

This is a common matter, under the State laws, and Federal labor laws, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

Customer:

Even if their employment contract (i.e., offer letter) and employee handbook detail PTO benefits?

wallstreetfighter :

The following are recent MN cases that show that an employer has the right to create whatever policy regarding PTO and other benefits. An employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time, so long as employees have signed contracts or written statements agreeing to the policy. See Lee v. Fresenius Medical Care, Inc., 741 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. S.Ct. 2007).


An employer would likely be able to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it, so long as the employee has agreed to the policy in writing. See Lee v. Fresenius Medical Care, Inc., 741 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. S.Ct. 2007).

wallstreetfighter :

If the employers handbook and and contract detail PTO, and the employer violates the contract,

wallstreetfighter :

they have breached the terms,

wallstreetfighter :

and the employees can bring legal action for the breach of contract,

Customer:

Additionally, they have implemented a use-it-or-lose-it policy and are now revoking our ability to use it

Customer:

And what about the mandatory OT and weekends with no compensation?

wallstreetfighter :

However, it must be shown that the PTO benefits outlined, are binding, and there was no clause allowing them to change the terms anytime.

Customer:

OK

wallstreetfighter :

An employer would likely be able to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it, so long as the employee has agreed to the policy in writing. See Lee v. Fresenius Medical Care, Inc., 741 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. S.Ct. 2007).

wallstreetfighter :

If they created this new policy without employees consent,

wallstreetfighter :

it can be an issue, and considered a violation of contract.

wallstreetfighter :

I would review the PTO policy, and highlight the violations,

wallstreetfighter :

and see if the employer provided any clauses, allowing them to make changes,

wallstreetfighter :

if no such clauses exist, and it is clear they have violated the policy, the employees can bring legal action

wallstreetfighter :

MN case law, states the employees must consent for these changes, if they are made after a PTO policy

Customer:

Very good. And regarding the question on the mandatory OT and weekends without compensation?

wallstreetfighter :

That is only allowed if the employees are considered exempt salary employees,

wallstreetfighter :

if the employees are hourly employees, they have to be paid overtime,

wallstreetfighter :

You have to be considered an "exempt" employee,

wallstreetfighter :

not just salaried,

wallstreetfighter :

an exempt employee is typically a professional, or manager, vp, or other high level employee

Customer:

I believe we're all considered exempt as we're all part of the IT department. But isn't there some level at which they can mandate such work. I mean, we were told we had to work 10 hours (minimum) daily or we'd be fired and the same for when they told us we had to work on weekends.

wallstreetfighter :

If you are a computer professional, it is likely you are exempt,

wallstreetfighter :

and the law allows an employer to make such threats,

Customer:

And if they want to mandate us to work 24 hours a day they can?

wallstreetfighter :

Yes, under MN law, there is no hour limit, the employer has the authority to establish the work schedule and determine the hours to be worked. There are no limits on the overtime hours the employer can schedule. Employees who refuse to work the scheduled hours may be terminated. Advance notice by an employer of the change in hours is not required.

wallstreetfighter :

You can review the State rules from the link above, on that exact question,

wallstreetfighter :

Unless you have a contract or are part of a Union, the employer can force you to work those hours,

Customer:

OK. Thank you for your time. You have answered all my questions at this time.

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