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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    3

    Default Vacation Denial

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Pa.

    I'm trying to get some sort of definition or ruling of "unduly interfere with the operation of the Authority".

    I work for a municipality that has its hourly employees represented by a union. I am an officer in the union. Over the years we have had dust-ups with management concerning the granting of vacation leave. Our CBA states that "Vacation shall be granted at the time requested by the employee provided that the said request does not duly interfere with the operation of the Authority". The dust-ups usually concern an employee requesting a vacation day that would result in the employer having to replace that employee and paying overtime to his/her replacement.

    Our paid leave situation is a bit convoluted due to a previous HR director who thought that she was the smartest person on the planet. As a result, we have three types of paid leave, vacation, PTO, and personal days - each with different rules concerning how they can be requested/used. So, some types of leave (vacation) are used early in the year and the others are essentially 'kept in reserve'.

    So, here's the situation...an employee asked for a vacation day that would require our employer to pay overtime for someone to replace him. They are denying his vacation request BUT they will allow him to use a PTO day. Regardless of which type of leave they grant, it will necessitate paying someone overtime to cover his shift (he works solo on third shift that particular day). The reason that they cite for denying his vacation request is the "undue interference", claiming that paying another employee eight hours overtime is a 'hardship'.

    I'd like to resolve this without a grievance but they can't get it through their heads that it's ridiculous to claim that it is a 'hardship' for them to have to pay overtime when granting a vacation day but it's not a problem for them to pay overtime when granting a PTO day for that same day! The real reason that they are denying his request is because some of the PTO days can be taken with a one-hour notice (similar to sick days that we had prior to the aforementioned brilliant HR director). So they pull stunts like this to try to get employees to use up their PTO days before their vacation days so that employees can't save their PTO days until later, toward the end of the year.

    Anyway, I'm trying to find a "legal" definition/interpretation of 'unduly interfere with the operation' to present to management to help convince them that their argument will not hold water. Now, if this guy was so valuable that he couldn't be replaced because no one other than him could do the job, or if there was no qualified replacement available to replace him I could agree that it would unduly interfere with the operation. But he is one of seven qualified people on staff, five of which would be available to work overtime that shift. He is a good guy but the operation will not go to pieces because he will miss a shift! I've done some research and the only thing that I have found that comes close is language in the ADA concerning workplace modifications. Is there something out there that I could possibly use?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,917

    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    The dust-ups usually concern an employee requesting a vacation day that would result in the employer having to replace that employee and paying overtime to his/her replacement.
    That would certainly "unduly interfere with the operation of the Authority."

    here's the situation...an employee asked for a vacation day that would require our employer to pay overtime for someone to replace him. They are denying his vacation request BUT they will allow him to use a PTO day. Regardless of which type of leave they grant, it will necessitate paying someone overtime to cover his shift (he works solo on third shift that particular day). The reason that they cite for denying his vacation request is the "undue interference", claiming that paying another employee eight hours overtime is a 'hardship'.
    I don't get it. What's the difference between one paid vacation day and one paid time off day?

    The real reason that they are denying his request is because some of the PTO days can be taken with a one-hour notice (similar to sick days that we had prior to the aforementioned brilliant HR director). So they pull stunts like this to try to get employees to use up their PTO days before their vacation days so that employees can't save their PTO days until later, toward the end of the year.
    I'm still not seeing it. You're still getting the day off. You just have to plan ahead a bit for vacation days later in the year. But you mean to tell me that come November you can't get one vacation day by asking for it the day before?

    I'm trying to find a "legal" definition/interpretation of 'unduly interfere with the operation'
    If it's not defined in your CBA I doubt that you'll find it in a statute or case law but other responders may have a different view.

    I've done some research and the only thing that I have found that comes close is language in the ADA concerning workplace modifications.
    That has nothing to do with this.

    Is there something out there that I could possibly use?
    Probably not. But you wrote that you are an officer in the union. Does your union have an attorney or access to an attorney? That would be the person to talk to.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    3

    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    That would certainly "unduly interfere with the operation of the Authority."

    Our employer has no problem paying overtime if the employee uses paid time off other than vacation. It can't possibly 'interfere with the operation' if it's OK that he uses a personal day but not a vacation day. It costs our employer the same amount of money and requires the same amount of effort to find a replacement.

    I don't get it. What's the difference between one paid vacation day and one paid time off day?

    The reason is because vacation days have to be requested but (three) PTO days essentially can't be denied by the employer. It was part of the bargained agreement when we accepted their offer to eliminate sick days. Initially, they wanted to require that all paid time off be requested with a notice but we convinced them that employees can't always schedule when they will get the flu, or food poisoning, or a migraine. If they could, they probably would never schedule an illness (or maybe that's just me). Anyway, our employer wants the employees to use up their 'unscheduled' days first so that they can deny leave if they see fit. I get that employers want to have complete control of employees' schedules but if my child wakes me up at 3:00am to tell me that he can't breathe, I'm going to take him to the hospital and miss a day's work, no matter what my employer thinks (again, maybe that's just me).


    I'm still not seeing it. You're still getting the day off. You just have to plan ahead a bit for vacation days later in the year. But you mean to tell me that come November you can't get one vacation day by asking for it the day before?

    Not necessarily. If you live in world where employers have a concern about their employees, that is awesome! I don't live in that world. I don't have enough time to tell you all of the petty, vindictive things that I have seen supervisors do to subordinates that they dislike/don't respect. If you've ever worked in a governmental workplace, you know how incestuous the hiring practices are. And when you have family working together (especially when one is a supervisor and one is a subordinate), all of the inter-family dynamics play out in the work place as well as the home life. It can be exhausting dealing with it. If you want to see pettiness, just come to my work place.

    If it's not defined in your CBA I doubt that you'll find it in a statute or case law but other responders may have a different view.

    It is not defined and I'm sure that can be interpreted pretty broadly. I was hoping that a similar case may have been adjudicated and I could get some guidance from a previous ruling. I do realize that it's a shot in the dark but I thought that it was worth that shot.

    That has nothing to do with this.

    I do realize that. I put that in there so that anyone who wanted to respond would not cite it and would know that I already was aware of the ADA. While searching through the internet sphere, that particular reference was really the only thing that I could find. I figured that anyone else who would Google "interfere with the operation' would get the same results.

    Probably not. But you wrote that you are an officer in the union. Does your union have an attorney or access to an attorney? That would be the person to talk to.
    Our union does have attorneys. However, I have no access to them except through my union rep, and he is not exactly Jimmy Hoffa. There are way more important folks than me that he wants to please.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    The reason is because vacation days have to be requested but (three) PTO days essentially can't be denied by the employer. It was part of the bargained agreement when we accepted their offer to eliminate sick days.
    I don't see where the employer's procedure is breaching the contract so if you aren't happy with the procedures you renegotiate the contract at the next opportunity.

    I get that employers want to have complete control of employees' schedules but if my child wakes me up at 3:00am to tell me that he can't breathe, I'm going to take him to the hospital and miss a day's work, no matter what my employer thinks (again, maybe that's just me).
    I'm with you on that and I would hope that every parent feels the same.

    If you live in world where employers have a concern about their employees, that is awesome! I don't live in that world.
    Neither did I. I think they are hiding out somewhere with the Unicorns and leprechauns. I spent 40 years in the working world and never found any employer that had any concern for anything but profit and would use their employees as slaves if they could get away with it.

    I don't have enough time to tell you all of the petty, vindictive things that I have seen supervisors do to subordinates that they dislike/don't respect. If you've ever worked in a governmental workplace, you know how incestuous the hiring practices are. And when you have family working together (especially when one is a supervisor and one is a subordinate), all of the inter-family dynamics play out in the work place as well as the home life. It can be exhausting dealing with it. If you want to see pettiness, just come to my work place.
    I've worked for some pretty crappy employers but I always had the luxury of having no vested interest in the company so I could always find another job and quit. It's not that easy working for a government entity if you have pension and seniority issues but it's still an option. You have to decide whether the job is worth being miserable.

    I was hoping that a similar case may have been adjudicated
    You would have to do appellate case searches for your state. Google Scholar is a good place for laymen to look up case decisions. Try that if you like but I can tell you from experience that figuring out the search parameters for this topic would be time consuming and difficult.

    Our union does have attorneys. However, I have no access to them except through my union rep,
    I guess I don't know much about union hierarchy. You wrote that you were an officer. I would have thought that would make you superior to a rep.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    16,188

    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    I don't see where the employer's procedure is breaching the contract so if you aren't happy with the procedures you renegotiate the contract at the next opportunity.



    I'm with you on that and I would hope that every parent feels the same.



    Neither did I. I think they are hiding out somewhere with the Unicorns and leprechauns. I spent 40 years in the working world and never found any employer that had any concern for anything but profit and would use their employees as slaves if they could get away with it.



    I've worked for some pretty crappy employers but I always had the luxury of having no vested interest in the company so I could always find another job and quit. It's not that easy working for a government entity if you have pension and seniority issues but it's still an option. You have to decide whether the job is worth being miserable.



    You would have to do appellate case searches for your state. Google Scholar is a good place for laymen to look up case decisions. Try that if you like but I can tell you from experience that figuring out the search parameters for this topic would be time consuming and difficult.



    I guess I don't know much about union hierarchy. You wrote that you were an officer. I would have thought that would make you superior to a rep.
    My experiences out there in the world have been very different than yours. I have always had employers who cared very much about the best interest of their employees, particularly the employer that I have had for the last 16 years. In fact, I don't think that I have ever had an employer who didn't care.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    24,384

    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    I've had both. My current employer is bending over backwards trying to take care of their employees. Three others I can think of also did exemplary jobs of looking after their people.

    On the other hand, I've had at least one who didn't give a damn, and another whose effort was half-hearted at best.

    There are good employers out there and there are bad ones.

    I'm not sure I get what the problem is. If you're still getting a paid day off, what difference does it make whether it's a vacation day or a PTO day?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    Sorry for the late reply, I got tied up and am just now getting back to the topic. To try to explain why the type of leave matters, I will use an analogy.

    Let’s say that you are a youngster and your parents told you in January that they put aside $1000 for the year for you for your entertainment expenses (movies, camps, sporting events, etc.). But there is a catch. It is in two accounts. The first contains $800 and can be used as long as you give your parents a three-day notice to help prepare for and make arrangements to get you to where you want to go. Let’s call it the ‘planned’ money. The other $200 is in a pre-paid debit card that can be used any time with a two-hour notice, and we’ll call it ‘mad’ money.

    So, in March you ask your parents if you can go to a concert in May that will cost $75. You’d like that money to come from the ‘planned’ account since you’re giving plenty of notice. Your parents say that you can go but only if you use the ‘mad’ money. That wasn’t the deal, right? You followed the rules and gave a notice, but the money still has to come from the ‘mad’ account? This would limit the amount of participation in unexpected entertainment opportunities that could possibly come up.

    In my OP, vacation time is ‘planned’ leave and PTO leave is ‘mad’ leave. If an employee is able to give an acceptable notice, he should be able to use vacation leave and hold on to the PTO leave in case he needs it for unexpected events. Our employer was OK with him taking off that particular day, they just wanted him to use up his ‘mad’ leave even though he gave the required advance notice to use the 'planned' leave.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Vacation Denial

    Still sounds like a mountain out of a molehill to me.

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