• Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Highlights Need for Clear Vacation Policies
  • April 11, 2018 | Authors: Jacob E. Roussel; Murphy J. Foster; John T. Andrishok; Leo C. Hamilton; Jerry L. Stovall; Rachael Jeanfreau; E. Fredrick Preis; Steven B. Loeb; Melissa M. Shirley; Eve B. Masinter; Sunny Mayhall West
  • Law Firm: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. - Baton Rouge Office
  • The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a trial court's decision that a pest control company employee was not entitled to a payout for his accrued, but unused, vacation leave. The Court found that the terms of Carrolton Pest Control & Termite Co.'s policy were ambiguous and therefore, the employee was entitled to the payout. The employee had worked for Carrolton for twenty-three years before his resignation. During that time, he had accrued approximately 1.25 vacation days per month. When he resigned, he had only used three of his fifteen days for 2015 and none of the days he had accrued in 2016. He sought compensation for a combined 18.25 days of vacation, but was only paid for 3.25 days because Carrolton's interpretation of the vacation policy was different than his. The employee filed suit under La.R.S. 23:631 and 23:632 for unpaid vacation wages of $2,974.02 plus interest. The trial court ruled that the vacation policy was clear on the issue of whether unused vacation would roll over to a subsequent year or was forfeited at the end of each year. However, the Fourth Circuit reviewed the trial court's decision and, the policy and supporting documentation from both the employee and Carrolton and found that the policy was ambiguous regarding whether unused accrued vacation leave could be carried over to the next year, and that the language should be construed against the employer because it drafted the policy. The decision awarded the employee the requested vacation wages for 18.25 days.