Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
The rule in TN is that employers are not required to pay an employee their accrued vacation upon separation of employment unless they have a policy which express so requires. Here, such policy DOES exist, but your employer is applying it in a manner that results in your disqualification for payment of the accrued time. The question therefore becomes whether this application of the policy is lawful.
According to the DOL, ""Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to the employee’s original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee’s use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned or was entitled to before using FMLA leave, nor be counted against the employee under a “no fault” attendance policy."
Pushing an emploee's hire date back when they take FMLA leave to cause them to lose an employment benefit such as accrued vacation would therefore be against the law as a form of illegal FMLA retaliation. You may wish to reference the above-quoted page from the DOL's website to your employer, which you can do here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28.htm#.UI8mf467Z4E
If they still refuse to pay you for these days, an individual in your circumstance can file a complaint with the Department of Labor (which has jurisdiction to hear claims for violation of the FMLA). Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in civil court.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.