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TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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My employer has changed my "date of hire", which affects the

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My employer has changed my "date of hire", which affects the amount of vacation time I receive.

The company I was employed at for 8 years was acquired in 2006. There was no mention of anyone being considered a new hire, and we did not resubmit an I-9. Two years later, in 2008, I received an extra week of vacation as per my ten-year anniversary. In 2009 I was contacted by HR and they requested an I-9 because they "couldn't find mine on file". This past year, 2012, I noticed that my "hire date" on my pay stubs now listed 2006 and going back through old pay stubs it looks like they changed it the year before and I just hadn't noticed it. When I contacted HR they said my hire date was when the company was acquired.

Under the original hire date, I am eligible for an extra week of vacation in 2013, but not under the new hire date.

Thank you for your question.

Is the vacation time policy set out in a written employee handbook?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. It has undergone several revisions over the years but it has always stated that the amount of vacation time is tied to years of employment.


Is it legal to retroactively change someone's hire date?

The retroactive change in your hire date is only an issue if you can be considered under an exception to the At-Will Doctrine. As an employee without a written employment contract, you fall under the At-Will Doctrine. The At-Will Doctrine means essentially, amongst other things, that the employer can change the terms of your employment, eliminate company benefits going forward, and/or terminate you without cause.

In Connecticut, an employment benefit such as vacation time, can be eliminated for At-Will employees. In Connecticut, 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. See Conn. Stat. 31-76k; Gagnon v. Housatonic Valley Tourism Dist. Comm., 888 A.2d 104, 92 Conn. App. 835 (2006); Santengelo v. Elite Beverage, Inc., 783 A.2d 500, 65 Conn. App. 618 (2001); Fulco v. The Norwich Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 609 A.2d 1034, 27 Conn. App. 800 (1992).

Thus, the employer is bound by the employment manual and that would mean that the employer's retroactive change of your hire date, which has the effect to breach the vacation time you have legally become entitled to pursuant to the employment manual, could be considered illegal.

The labor department does not enforce these sort of provisions, leaving the duty to enforce this in the hands of the employee. Accordingly, you would need to file a lawsuit if the employer will not agree to correct this. The lawsuit would be for breach of employment contract.

What I suggest you do first (because filing a lawsuit may end up causing you to be fired) is to produce some proof that you worked for the company prior to the acquisition/merger. This needs to be put into a written formal complaint to submit to HR and to the company management (or the in house counsel if the company has one).

Are you the only employee this has happened to? Are there other employees who have been with the company as long as you have and who still have the correct amount of vacation time?
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