Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: I work in the restaurant business. My employer said we cannot take vacation during spring break, summer or Christmas. Most employees have been there over a year. Some are in school and some work vacations around school age children. My employer also makes us pay for cash drawer shortages and customer walkouts.

A: “Paid or unpaid vacations are not required by state or federal law,” says employee rights attorney Stephen C. Kimball of Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo.

“When an employer has an established policy or agreement to provide paid vacations, the law regulates this. For example, upon termination or resignation, a company must timely pay the employee all vested and unused vacation pay or risk penalties. Forfeiting vested vacation benefits is illegal.

“Companies can establish ‘caps’ or ‘ceilings’ on vacation pay accruals and have discretion to control either the scheduling of vacation time or the amount of vacation that may be taken at a particular time.

“Employers can prohibit employees from taking a vacation during spring break, summer, or the Christmas season.

“Unless your employer has strong proof that the cash drawer shortage or customer walkouts are caused by the employee’s dishonesty or gross negligence, the employer cannot make the employees pay.

“You should talk to your employer and request this to cease. If it continues, you could seek reimbursement from your employer from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in your area. Your employer is also prohibited from retaliating against you should you complain about the issue.”