Employer can't require worker to pay for vacation


I work for a handicapped riding program, and part of my duties includes teaching horseback riding to our clients. My employment contract gives me a seven-day paid vacation. But after my latest one, my employer demanded that I pay my replacement $99 for the lessons she taught in my absence. Can my employer require this? Since I earn so little, $99 is a considerable sum.

If your employer agreed to the paid vacation, and you've got a written contract to prove it, she can't turn around and essentially charge you for it. Neither can she force you to pay your replacement nor take that money out of your check. Boy, this boss certainly knows how to kill that vacation glow.

What does "an employment-at-will state" mean exactly? And specifically, what states are like this?

Virtually all states carry the designation, which covers noncontract employment relationships. In an at-will state, a company can fire you at any time and for no reason at all, and you can also quit at any time.

That wide expanse has limitations though. A company can't use the regulation as a ruse to dismiss someone on the basis of such things as age, race or disability.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist at Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at yourmoney@tribune.com.

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