Today’s burning question: My fire department offered me a $26,000 buyout to retire. If I take it, does the $26,000 include accrued vacation time, or can I still get paid for the time I have on the books? That question is that the heart of a lawsuit filed by seven firefighters in Logansport, Indiana.
Steve Crispen, William Hassett, Randy Landis, Kim Costello, Rex Danely, David Huff, and James McMinn filed suit on July 28, 2011, claiming “Under Indiana law, an agreement to give vacation pay to employees made before they perform their services, and based upon length of service and time worked, is not a gratuity, but rather is in form of compensation for services” that must be paid in accordance with the Indiana Wage Payment Act in addition to any other required compensation.
The city of Logansport answered the complaint on September 23, 2011 denying the allegations and disagreeing with the firefighters’ “characterization of Indiana law, which is a matter for the court’s determination.” Among the points of contention: can vacation time be carried over from year to year, and when exactly does vacation time accrue.
The city claims that a Logansport ordinance “provides that vacation leave is allotted during the calendar year and does not accumulate or carry over to the following calendar year.” The firefighters contend that vacation time accrues the year prior to being used. In other words, a firefighter is granted X weeks vacation on January 1, 2011 by virtue of having worked January 1 to December 31, 2010.
The retiring firefighters are alleging they are owed 6 weeks of vacation, equaling roughly $4,500 per retiree.