Is it legal for an employer to forbid you from talking to an ex-employee?

My girlfriend was called in to her boss’s office. Her boss yelled at her for the better part of an hour and told her they were gonna sue her for talking to her friend who is an ex-employee. She was also told that she was lucky to be making so much money ($10 per hour) for her job. She is a web page designer with an associates degree. What actions can I take and is what they are saying at all true?

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While unprofessional, your girlfriend's employer's action were also legal. In an at will work relationship an employer has great discretion in setting the terms of employment. It can hire/fire, promote/demote, increase/decrease salary/hours, and impose just about whatever other conditions that is sees fit. This wouldinclude banning an employee from contacting an ex-employee. For your girlfriend's part she can either abide by this prohibition or quit.

The fact is that if she wants the keep her job, she may want to follow her employer's directive. otherwise she can be fired for this (or any other reason, even no reason at all). Of course this all presumes that she has no employment contact or union agreement prohibiting this action, or such a restriction is against existing company policy, or this treatment is due to some form of actionable discrimination.


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