Our large hospital has an inconsistent holiday policy. Full-time employees get major holidays off with pay, and if a holiday falls on a regular day off, they get a different day off or an extra day's pay—unless they work in the kennels. Full-time kennel staff who rotate schedules on the holidays don't get extra pay or time off. The managers say they're getting paid already. Obviously, working in the kennels on a holiday isn't what most employees want to do anyway, and this is causing resentment. Is this policy merely unfair or is it illegal?
Let's talk about the legal side first. While there aren't federal regulations regarding holiday pay, federal law does prohibit discrimination against people based on factors such as race or religion. So your practice could face problems if members of your kennel staff represent a protected class. Remember, it's important to avoid the appearance of discrimination as well as actual discrimination. For a definitive opinion, you need to talk to an attorney in your state. He or she will help you explore any state laws and determine how they affect your practice.
To answer your second question, is it unfair? Absolutely! Being paid to work a day and being paid for a day off are totally different things. No wonder these team members are unhappy. From a morale standpoint, this kind of policy is devastating. Right now they don't receive the same benefits as the rest of the team. And nothing upsets employees more than being treated unfairly. The full-time kennel workers should either receive an alternate day off or receive pay for an extra day as compensation.