Can an employer force an employee to go from a day shift position to a night position?

I work for a medical center as a Registered Nurse. I work the day shift full-time. I am being told that I have to go down to night shift because they are short staffed and I have the least seniority. They then told me if a day shift becomes available, I will not automatically get it. I will have to bid on it with everyone else. I find this ethically wrong. I did not choose to leave my job; I was forced. Now someone else ill probably get it (I have the least seniority at night time too). I get excellent evaluations, exemplary and proficient.

Asked on October 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an union agreement or employment contract that prohibits this? Does this move violate existing company policy? Is this change the result of actionable discrimination? If so, you have protection here. However, if none of the foregoing applies top yuor situation if not I'm afraid that you must either make the move or face possible termination.

The fact is that an employer has a great deal of discretion in setting the terms and conditions of employment. This includes mandating the rules and regulations regarding a shift change. If you disagree with this your are free to quit. However, if you don't agree to such a  change your employer can terminate you (and without notice).

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