What are my rights if my employer is increasing an already heavy physical schedule?

My employer in a retail environment with moderately heavy physical exertion/repetitive use/heavy lifting, recently started scheduling split shifts, working 5 hours, leaving for 2.75 hours, and working again for 5 hours. We’ve been told that soon we will be working even more of these shifts each week. I’m starting to experience physical problems due to these shifts? Is this legal?

Asked on September 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract or is there a uinon agreement that prohibits such action? Does this treatment violate company policy or in some way constititute employment discrimination or retaliation? If not, then as an "at will" employee, your employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes setting the type of schedule that you described. Consequently, you can either comply and work the new hours or quit. For it's part, your employer can either choose to change or enforce it. To the extent that employees do not comply with it, they can be terminated. In fact, at will employees can be discharged for this reason, any reason or no reason at all.


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