Can an empoyer prevent me from having a second job?

I am a police officer. I want to work part-time for another city close by. I was advised that I could not. Is this right? Other employees currently have part-time jobs and one is a part-time officer elsewhere.

Asked on May 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, yes, an employer may tell employees to not have a second job: that is completely within an employer's rights, and an employer may terminate employees who have a 2nd job in defiance of instructions or policy.
However, they cannot discrminate based on a protected category (the main ones of which are race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability) in terms of who may have a 2nd job or not: if you believe that you are being treated differently for one of these reasons, you may have an employment discrimination claim which you could bring to the EEOC or your state civil/equal rights agency.
However, as long as they are not doing it for illegal discriminatory reasons, an employer may let certain employees have a 2nd job but not others. For example, it could do so based on seniority (let more senior employees do this), on their positions (let certain job categories have a 2nd job but not others), or on the nature of the 2nd job (e.g. officers could be allowed to work for a private company, e.g. as mall or restaurant/bar security) but not for another governmental entity or police force.

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