Can a company choose which workers have to commute, based on their residence?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a company choose which workers have to commute, based on their residence?

I currently work for a corporation and my sub-group has only home office based workers, since we only require a laptop with a network connection and a phone to do our work.The office recently advised people that live within 30 miles of a company office, that they will have to commute to an office daily. Is the company allowed to pick who has to commute, based only on where we live? They are not paying for out commuting costs, so where we live, has no bearing on the cost to the company. More then half of my co-workers will probably still be working at home, so that proves that it is not necessary to be at an office to do the same work we have been doing at home for years. It seems they should be asking everyone to commute if they do not want people working from a home office. This will probably cost me 3k a year of my gross income, for travel, clothes and lunch. Is there any legal recourse to this request?

Asked on December 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that guarantees your right to work from home, this action is perfectly permissable. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will", which means that a company can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes who must report to the office and who can work remotely. Accordingly, unless some form of actionable discrimination is a factor in this action (i.e. is based on race, religion, national origin, age (over 40), disability, etc.), then it is lawful. Absent such discrimination, not all employees need be treated the same or even fairly.

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