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VA Tech Writer laid off contract and asked to pay overused vacation

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  • VA Tech Writer laid off contract and asked to pay overused vacation

    Okay, I am mad as hell.

    In August of 2005, I was laid off a contract with a big time contracting company.

    The company policy is to give you all your vacation time (3 weeks) at the beginning of the year.

    I took all three weeks in May, not knowing I would be laid off (through no fault of my own, funding issues with the gov't.)

    No one told me this policy or warned me that I was gonna get a bill for 1,500 dollars for the "overused" vacation time. The letter explains that I had not yet accrued the full three weeks for vacation and that I was being billed for a week's vacation.

    Since I was LAID off the contract, with almost no warning, I do not feel I should have to pay this amount back to them.

    Any thoughts? Advice, please.

  • #2
    It's not clear whether you knew you were taking vacation time in advance of having earned it. Please comment. Thanks.


    • #3
      the policy vs. what i knew

      I was not clear about the policy. I thought we just got the vacation time up front and I did not realize it was "accrued".


      • #4
        What state did you work in?
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5

          Well, let's see, it's a little complicated.

          I was working in DC. The office I was hired from was in Norfolk, VA. The office my Program Manager worked from was in South Carolina.

          I think Virginia laws would apply since the office I reported to "officially" was in Norfolk, Virginia.


          • #6
            D.C., me thinks

            Usually, the law of the state in which the work was performed controls. You work in Alabama for a New York company, and suffer discrimination in Alabama, usually Alabama law controls.

            However, you're not an employee, but a contractor. Thus, your contract will likely control. Usually it states all disputes hereunder shall be governed and controlled by the laws of state X. If not, then a fall back position can be either where the contract was formed or where performance was rendered. Under formation, it would be where negotiated and signed. Under performance, it could be either where you worked, or where they paid you from (since the contract is your performance of work for their perfomance of payment), or a weighing of both. In any isntance, not sure it matters where not sure states (or whatever you want to call D.C.) would differ on this issues much.

            As far as earning vacations, accrual is usually done in either of three ways. One is where you work this year to earn next year's vacation. Sometimes this can be gleaned from no vacation for the first year practice, but not always where some companies simply don't give a vacation in first year not because you didn't accrue it yet, but because they don't want to extend that benefit to a new employee. But, I'd say if you did get a vacation in yoru first year, then it isn't that option but either of the following. The second scenario is you accrue it as go along, in the year it is to be taken. Here, they "front" you the vacation and expect you to "earn" it by the end of the year. This is the scenario they're trying to push here. The third is that it is n't accrued through the passage of time, but rather just given in a lump sum on the 1st of every year. Kinda like a bonus might be given on December 24 of every year, but you don't get proportionally less of it if you quit on December 1st or proportionally more if they forget and give it on December 26th.

            My guess is the third option is how it was practices, but unsaid. However, now that they're term'ing you, they use the second option as fall back. Could be they're that broke, or that they expect you to claim unemployment (can you?) or the value of the full contract, or some other claim and this is a bargaining chip - as in, you want this X and we want 1500 from you, so lets give you X less 1500. I dunno. But, I guess the real question is who far are you willing to not give 1500? hardly worth a lawsuit over, but maybe they'll bring one anyway. If so, as a contract employee, you can claim detrimental reliance. Meaning you wanted to do something, you gave them notice (I assum you put in for your vacation weeks), they received the notice, thought about it (even if briefly), and allowed you to do whatever it was you desired, but now claim you should not have done it. Under such a theory, it is their fault, not yours. And they likely know it, but are unscrupulous in kicking a person when they're down.

            So, you really need to read your contract. what does it say on which state's law controls? Also, what does it say on vacation accrual? Also, what does it say on dispute resolution. As I udnerstand it, you've received your pay, but they also sent a bill for the vacation. if so, they would need to sue you, or maybe file arbitration, or etc. The section on dispute resolution would spell that out. On the other hand, if they're withholding pay, you need to make the claim to get it back. You can try the Dept of Labor for whatever state controls, but not sure if they'd help where you may not be classified as an employee. So you then might have to avail yourself of the dispute resolution procedure. Or if none, then you might have to sue or they might be able to sue in a traditional court of law.

            well, good luck,

            curt j.


            • #7
              Thank you ...

              CurtJ- thank you for your informative reply to my posting ...

              Just to clarify. I was contracting for the Federal Gov't but I was an EMPLOYEE of said company asking me to pay back my vacation time.

              I checked the documents sent to me from HR regarding the vacation accrual. It is not a change in policy, the company is not going bankrupt. They specify that you are "fronted" the vacation time at the beginning of the year. (Jan 1st to be precise.)

              Okay, so let's say for the sake of argument that it is true, indeed, that the vacation time was given to me before I had actually accrued it.

              The point is that I was LAID OFF the contract. I did not plan to leave before the end of the year. How can they expect me to pay them for that vacation time? I left through no fault of my own. I was not given severance pay. I am VERY opposed to paying them for that time, if no reason than just on principle.

              I am worried they will pursue this and take me to court. I am worried it is going to end up as a judgment against me on my credit report. I am trying to be proactive...

              I am employed.. I am not on unemployment. I did not collect anything from them. They should let this go ... do you think they will, that as you said, it is not worth it for them to pursue this? What else can I do ?

              Last edited by techwriter; 10-13-2005, 09:54 AM.


              • #8
                That's the chance that you and the company take when they "advance" vacation. They can file a civil suit if they want. And you have the right to show up and defend yourself, or find an attorney if it comes to that.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


                • #9
                  Thank you Beth

                  I appreciate your advice. I guess I will cross my fingers and pray they don't take me to court. If they do, I will defend myself and I am fairly certain I am in the right on this matter.

                  Thanks again.


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