Court holds fired employee cannot recover promised Paid Time Off
MSX International Platform Services, LLC sued Brian Hurley in an attempt to avoid an abitration decision under the parties' employment contract. Apparently, like many employees, Hurley was required to arbitrate his employment rights under a contract provision. After he was fired by the company, he sought his accumulated Paid Time Off and an arbitrator agreed that he was entitled to it. The employer then sued in Circuit Court to overturn the arbitrator's decision.The trial judge, given only limited authority in an arbitration matter, upheld the arbitrator's decision. Two judges of the Court of Appeals refused to recognbize the Courts' limited jurisdiction and disagreed with the arbitrator and trial judge. These judges reversed the award, holding that the employer did not owe PTO to Hurley, even though the lower authrities' decision appeared to be consistent with a prior Michigan decision awarding an employee severance pay.
The two judges distinguished Hurley's case from the existing precedent on the basis that new employees at MSX were "given" 5 days PTO when they started employment, and therefore it was an unearned "gratuity," even though additional PTO was awarded based on years of service.