If I took on a second job similar to the job I already have, canI be fired from the first job?

I work for an internet sweepstakes and recently took a part-time job at a different sweepstakes in a neighboring town. Before accepting it I went to my manager at my first job and asked if it was OK, although I have never signed anything saying that I couldn’t work at another sweepstakes. Still I wanted to make sure it was OK and that it wouldnt be a conflict. Well now 4 weeks later my first manager is telling me I have to quit one or the other because we are loosing business. Mind you this is not a reflection on me nor have I done anything to cause job #1 to loose business. What are my legal rights as an employee?

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unless existing company policy allows for outside employment or you are given this right by virtue of a union agreement or company contract, you can be prohibited from taking such emloyment if your primary employer objects. This is generally true even if it initially gave approval and later withdrew it (unless you can show "detrimental reliance"). If your are not being allowed to have a second job due to some form of actionable discrimination you have a claim but you did not indicate that to be the case. Therefore, as an at will employer, your company can set the terms and conditions of your employment much as it sees fit; this includes when and what for to termnate an employee. For your part, you can choose to continue work for this company or not.

Note: If you had signed a "non-compete" agreement (which you did not), you would be prohibited from working for this second employer even if you no longer worked for the first.

Bottom line, you can be fired for this, any or even no reason at all. However, if you feel that your rights have may have in some way been violated, consult directly an employment law attorney in your area or  contact your state's department of labor.

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