A Massachusetts man who was paid after being laid off, will receive even more money because his former employer failed to specify that the extra money was for unpaid vacation days. In Dixon v. City of Malden, Mr. Dixon was dismissed from his role as a director of a nursing home, and at the time he had fifty unpaid vacation days. The city then paid Mr. Dixon for the next fifty days, but did not specify that these payments were part of his owed vacation days. Mr. Dixon was actually paid more ($19,700) than he was owed in vacation days ($13,615) and continued to receive other employee benefits.
The lower court ruled that because Mr. Dixon received more money than he was owed, he should not receive any additional compensation. The court denied him his vacation money, litigation costs, and attorney fees. The Supreme Judicial Court overruled the decision.
According to the Wage Act, unpaid wages (including holidays) must be paid in full, and the employee must be told what the payments are for. Mr. Dixon was still receiving normal pay checks for fifty days, but these were not vacation payments. The SJC ruled that because the city failed to be specific, they violated the Wage Act. An employee would not be on notice that the unlabelled payments were for vacation and not some other amount due. The fact that the SJC overruled the decision shows that even favorable after-the-fact payments may not be enough and that an employee is entitled to all of their earned wages, promptly, explicitly, and without settlement.
If you have experienced something similar, please call us to learn about your rights.