The provisions of a contract between the parties held to control the number of days of accumulated vacation leave credits to be paid the employee upon his or her separation from service
Wilson v Poughkeepsie City School Dist., 2017 NY Slip Op 01404, Appellate Division, Second Department
Former Poughkeepsie School Superintendent Laval Wilson sued the Poughkeepsie City School District [Poughkeepsie] for breach of contract when it refused to pay him for certain accumulated vacation leave credits that Wilson alleged was due him when left the employ of the school district.
Paragraph 8(b) of Wilson's employment contract with Poughkeepsie permitted him to accumulate "up to a total of fifteen (15)" days of vacation leave. However, another provision in the contract provided that Wilson could "carry over ... 5 vacation days per year."
Although Poughkeepsie paid Wilson for his 15 accumulated vacation days when he left its employ, Wilson contended that he was also entitled to be paid for an additional 22 days of accumulated vacation credit attributed to his "carry over" of certain vacation days while employed by Poughkeepsie and thus he was due payment for a total of 37 accumulated vacation days at the rate of $920 per day. Accordingly, Wilson claimed that Poughkeepsie still owed him $20,240 ($920 x 22 days).
Poughkeepsie, on the other hand, argued that the contract provided that Wilson was entitled to a specified number of paid vacation days each year, which accrued on a monthly basis, and upon leaving employment with the school district after three years of employment, he would be paid for his accumulated vacation days not to exceed a total of fifteen days of vacation credit accruals.
The Appellate Division agreed with Poughkeepsie's interpretation of the contract between the parties, explaining that in its view:
1. Paragraph 8(b) of the contract between the parties set a 15 day limit on the amount of vacation credit Wilson could accumulate.
2. Although another clause in the contract specified that Wilson could "carry over" a maximum number of vacation days - five days - per year, the 15-day limit in paragraph 8(b) did not include any reference to a particular time frame and thus barred Wilson from accumulating more than 15 paid vacation days during the entire course of his employment..
The Appellate Division said that a contract is to be construed in accordance with the parties' intent, which is "generally discerned from the four corners of the document itself." Here, said the court, the contract barred Wilson from accumulating more than 15 paid vacation days during the entire course of his employment and held that Wilson’s claim that he was entitled to be paid for a total of 37 vacation days when he left his position with Poughkeepsie “is utterly refuted by the unambiguous terms of the contract.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at: