Can a employer question you about a conversation that you have on your lunch hour?

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Can a employer question you about a conversation that you have on your lunch hour?

Asked on April 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, yes--your employer may ask you about any conversation you had, at any time (e.g. at lunch, after hours, on weekened) and could--if you lack an employment contract, and hence are an employee at will--terminate you either for not answering or if the employer does not like your answer.

There are a few limited exceptions: you can't be terminated for having a conversation about union activity or organizing; you should not be fired for discussing certain protected claims, like for overtime or about being discriminated against; if you work for the government, you have broader free speech rights. However, those exceptions  aside, you are not protected at work in what you say or who you say it to, so, for example, if you criticize a supervisor or manager to co-workers, or bad mouth the company to outsiders or  potential customers/clients, you could be terminated.


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