Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Holiday Workplace Misconceptions #AllHolidaysMatter

It's the holiday season, and there are lots of misconceptions about the laws relating to holidays in the workplace. Here are a few I'd like to clear up:

Extra pay for working holidays: No federal law requires extra pay for working holidays. Some union contracts and employment contracts require extra pay, such as time and a half or double time for holidays, but most don't. I don't know of any state law requiring extra pay for holiday work. Florida certainly does not.

Holiday pay: If you take the holidays off, maybe you get paid and maybe you don't. Some government employees get paid holidays off by law. Otherwise, it depends on your company policy and any contracts, whether employment contracts or union contracts. Many employers offer certain paid holidays, but they don't have to. If they don't, you may have to use any accrued vacation time or paid time off. If you have none, but still want to take the holiday off, you may have to do it unpaid.

Religious accommodation: If you have a religious reason for needing a holiday off, I suggest putting your request for a religious accommodation in writing to HR or someone in management. If it's a hardship the employer still may not have to grant the accommodation, but most times they are required to accommodate you. On the other hand, time off for your church's holiday pageant or concert is not a religious requirement and probably doesn't have to be accommodated.

Overtime: If you take a holiday or vacation, your overtime pay is only based on hours worked, not the holiday or vacation time.

Discrimination: There are lots of holidays this time of year for lots of religions, so demanding your coworkers or customers greet you specifying a particular holiday could be deemed religious discrimination or religious harassment. Don't try to force your holiday down people's throats. Your employer cannot allow one employee to say "Happy Hanukkah" but prohibit you from saying "Merry Christmas." Your employer can probably prohibit all religious greetings and require a more generic "Happy Holidays" if they enforce it equally. On the other hand, forcing all employees to say "Merry Christmas" may violate some religious prohibitions, such as those of Jehovah's Witnesses. Similarly, if the employer allows religious displays on desks, they must allow all religious displays.

Hopefully these tips will help you get through the holidays without getting fired. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.