Can your employer expect you to be on-call even though it is not written anywhere

I am an exempt employee. My employer is expecting me to work during a holiday and
I am unable to work due to travel plans. Working during the holiday was scheduled
2 days in advance and after I booked my travel plans. There is nothing in the
employee manual or onboarding document that states this requirement. My employer
has verbally told me his expectation is for me to be available during the
holiday.

Can I be fired for this. Am I obligated to work even though this policy is
nowhere in writing?

Asked on November 20, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You are under a misapprehension: that employment policies must be in writing to be enforceable against employees. Unfortunately, that is not the law: unless you have a written contract which specifies your schedule or when you must be available or on-call, your employer has the right to require you to work or be available whenever they want you to (and can change policies at will), and failure to work or be on-call when required would certainly be grounds for termination.
There is also on requirement that employees be treated equally or fairly, so the owners can let their wives out of working while requiring you to do so, and that is legal.


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