Discrimination - Unused vacation hours after been fired in Florida

hello, i just recently lost a job. I live in Florida. I know i am suppose to contact the florida department of labor with regards to questions. But they are so hard to get a hold of. So am hoping that someone can share their wealthy knowledge of what to do in this situation.

I was working for a hotel for almost 3 years. My managers and i had a great relationship. But when it came down to getting vacation approved, i would seldom have any support from them. As a matter of fact, newer employees would simply  ask for WEEKS! of at a time and they would get approved. Even during their probation periods..even days off they probably didn't have..out of all employees in my department, I can easily say i was working here the longest and even after missing a few days ..and of course some vacation request would get approved...but silly request..like one day or requesting a 3 day (requesting a day off after my days off...weekend..nonetheless, it was still a hassle and they always gave me a runaround excuse for not been able to approve at times..did i mention that for 2 straight years i sold more merchandise than any other employee and my manager would constantly bring to my attention how good of an employee i was..

so about 2 months ago me and another employee get into an argument..this happened behind closed doors..not in front of guest..we ended up talking to our managers about this. me and the other employee came to an agreement and moved forward.

2 months later..my "supposedly good friend" manager tells me that we are letting you go due to a recent event that took place 2 months ago..totally shocked and disappointed. I worked my brains out for this place and sacrificed and even went to work to cover peoples shifts who were absent. I don't want to flatter myself..but i can vouch and say that I was easily one of the best/responsible employees in my department.

After they told me the news..i was simply told to leave after meeting with HR..i did NOT sign anything..i wasn't told anything with regards to any severance pay...

so for about 6 days i have been trying to reach hr to see if i can get my vacation hours or to see if i have to sign something..i feel like i was back-stabbed with a sword..no support for me at all..no signs of any pay..

cutting to the chase...

What should i do..i was told to contact the Florida labor department to exercise my rights..

Do you think there is a way to get my unused vacation hours?

if - or if not - what legal actions can/should i take?

I really feel like i have been discriminated..

I currently feel so confused and have even been losing sleep over this..your input will be highly appreciated

Thanks and regards,

T
tobe1424Asked:
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nickg5Connect With a Mentor Commented:
You in Florida.....correct?

Although no Florida law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some version of vacation. Thus, it is important for employers to remember that if they “promise” vacation, they may be legally bound to provide it--and that a binding promise does not require embodiment in a formal employment contract. Florida courts have ruled that, under some circumstances, an employer's assurance of paid vacation time, whether made in an employee handbook, given orally, or simply understood as policy through consistent practice, may constitute an implied contract that is binding and enforceable.

When Vacation Pay Is Due at Termination
http://www.blr.com/HR-Employment/Benefits-Leave/Vacations-in-Florida
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dhsindyRetired considering supplemental income.Commented:
Did your employer have a written policy on vacations?
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tobe1424Author Commented:
Not exactly sure..I would have to try to reach someone to verify?

So it pretty much comes down to this policy?

If they simply neglect the subject in the policy, chances are I won't get my unused hours?

T
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dhsindyConnect With a Mentor Retired considering supplemental income.Commented:
If they publish a policy that will usually govern.  A lot depends on what they did in the past.  So you might have to get some documentation and take them to court.  Depending on the amount you could represent yourself in small claims court.  You can usually research your states laws on line.  And, contact yours states labor relations board.

Where I work they have a written policy.  And, it works like this, you are given the days to take at the beginning of the year but you actually earn so many days a month.  So, if you take more than you earn you may have to pay some back.
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nickg5Commented:
I worked for a company for 14 years and got no paid vacation time.
I could ask off and I was usually accomodated but it was not written in stone.

I don't think employers have to give you any vacation time.

And sadly, unless the rules have changed, since you were fired you can not apply for unemployment insurance.

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Because no law requires employers to provide paid vacation, employers have free reign when it comes to determining how much vacation to offer and to which employees.
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/paid-vacation-what-are-rights-33485.html

And there is paid vacation time and "unpaid" vacation time.
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tobe1424Author Commented:
Many thanks for your input it has been very helpful. So you are saying that at this point I should contact HR and ask them for the company's vacation policy?
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tobe1424Author Commented:
Even if they do have a policy on vacation that states I should not receive unpaid vacation hours is there always a chanc is there always a chance of me winning in small claims court?
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nickg5Commented:
In our area, small claims goes before the civil magistrate. You can hire a lawyer or not hire one. The company you are taking to court may have their own lawyer ready to go for employee disputes.

How much paid vacation time do you think you should have?

If there is no written policy or written employee handbooks, I'm afraid you may be out of luck.
We had an employee handbook that told us everything about everything.....health insurance options, etc.
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nickg5Commented:
How much paid vacation time do you think you should have?
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nickg5Commented:
Florida Vacation Pay Upon Resignation

While no one can predict the outcome of a lawsuit with certainty, the employer probably is not liable for employees vacation time. Several states always require employers to pay workers for unused vacation time upon termination, but Florida is not one of them.

It's a matter of company policy rather than employment law in Florida. Some states require all employers to pay unused vacation at termination but Florida does not.

If the employer has a written policy of paying unused vacation at termination, then you may be entitled to it. You can try to sue the employer in small claims court. Unfortunately, most Florida employers do not have such a policy.

http://www.humanresourceblog.com/2008/09/11/florida-vacation-pay-upon-resignation/
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tobe1424Author Commented:
Thanks a lot for the support.

Do you think sending a certified letter to the GM will help him understand and possibly make an exception? I.e. stating how it was very unfair that I wasn't able to use my vacation due to management scheduling..more or less what I explained in this thread?
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nickg5Commented:
How much paid vacation time do you think you should have?
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nickg5Commented:
How much paid vacation time do you think you should have?

THAT answer may determine whether you should pursue it and how, or forget it.
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