Can my employer prohibit me from associating with co-workers outside of work?

I am an assistant manager at a retail clothing store. The store manager says that I can’t associate with co-workers when I’m not working. Is this legal?

Asked on February 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Some states, including New York, have laws that explicitly protect an employee’s lawful activities off the clock and off company premises. Even states that don't have these laws may still may afford an employee protection in this situaton. If the employer is trying to control an employee’s private/social life, the mandate to not socialize with co-workers could potentially be deemed an unfair labor practice under the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act), as well as a violation of privacy laws.


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