Can Your Employer Deny Your Vacation Request?
Can Your Employer Deny Your Vacation Request?

Can Your Employer Deny Your Vacation Request?

You’ve worked hard all year and you have finally decided to take that much needed vacation. One problem. Your employer says no. Beyond frustrated, you wonder, is it legal? Can your employer deny your vacation request? They’re your earned vacation days after all. Unfortunately, your employer can legally deny your vacation request, with a few exceptions.

The decision to approve or deny a vacation request is up to the employer. If the employer denies the vacation request, they must have a legitimate business reason for doing so. The denial must also be consistent with other employee approvals/denials and in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Legitimate Business Reasons

A legitimate business reason means that your working is absolutely necessary for the business during the days of your requested vacation. For example, by you leaving, there would not be adequate coverage. Maybe you’re an accountant and it’s tax season. Whatever the reason, if your employer absolutely needs you during your requested time off, it is legal to refuse your vacation request.

However, your employer can only deny your request if it is in a consistent and nondiscriminatory manner. If your employer is letting everyone else take the same amount of time off during the same busy season, you may have a legal remedy. If this is the case, first speak with your manager. The other employees may have given more notice or may not be taking the same amount of days.


If you feel that your vacation request is denied because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information, you should speak with an employment attorney. This is discrimination and is illegal. Your employer cannot deny your vacation request simply because you are part of a protected class.

You should be aware that employers can sometimes unintentionally discriminate against a group of employees. For example, if you work in a department of predominantly women and the employer denies vacation requests more so for that specific department, there may be a reasonable discrimination claim. While the employer may not necessarily mean to discriminate and thinks they are denying your request because of a legitimate business reason, it still may be discrimination.


If you have reason to believe that you are being discriminated against, you should file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You must first file a complaint with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit. You should also contact an employment attorney in your state.

Sum It Up

  • It is legal for employers to deny vacation request unless the reason is discriminatory.
  • Employers can sometimes unintentionally discriminate, so look to see if you are part of a protected class.
  • If you think your vacation request denial is discrimination, file a discrimination claim with the EEOC. You can also contact an employment attorney in your state.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.

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