Can an employer force an employee to change their shift?

About 2 weeks ago my co-worker left for another job, leaving me as the only person to do the work in my department. Before my co-worker left I had offered to my manager that I take his shift 1-9 pm to fill the gap so there would not be any problems but he denied needing that. Now he has realized that it is needed to cover and wants me to change my shift, rather is forcing the change on me. The problem with doing this would mean my wife would no longer have a way to get to work she starts at 9 pm, also if she were that would leave our 8 month old baby at home alone.

Asked on December 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits such a change? Does this violate existing company policy? Is some for of actionable discrimination or retaliation a factor in your situation (you did not indicate this to be the case)? If not, then there really isn't much that you can do. The fact of the matter is that employers have a great deal of discretion setting the terms and conditions of the workplace. This includes who and when a person works a certain shift. In turn, employees can continue to work for their employer not. Additionally, employees can be fired for refusing to work their scheduled shifts. Actually, employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

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