For years my boss has put "PTO" next to everything on my pay stubs. Next to bonuses, next to holidays, and he even put pto next to medical stipend. But I don't have a tally on my stub of PTO hours accrued. In 2007 SF city passed a sick pay ordinance and I found out recently that pto policy means my boss would be compliant, yet still never paid for sick days.
I think you ought to take this to a local employment attorney for review.
In California, an employer is legally obligated to maintain accurate records. Section 226 of the California Labor Code requires employers to maintain time records and wage withholding information for at least three years for each employee. For violations, the employer may be required to pay monetary fines of up to $4,000.00, plus attorney fees and costs.
Under California law, earned vacation time is considered wages, and vacation time is earned, or vests, as labor is performed. For example, if an employee is entitled to two weeks (10 work days) of vacation per year, after six months of work he or she will have earned five days of vacation. Vacation pay accrues (adds up) as it is earned, and cannot be forfeited, even upon termination of employment, regardless of the reason for the termination. (Suastez v. Plastic Dress Up (1982) 31 Cal.3d 774).
Employees who believe they have been deprived of any earned/accrued vacation time can file a claim with a local office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or seek help from an employment law attorney.
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Employment / Labor Attorney
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***