Can an employer enforce rules with select employees but not others?

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Can an employer enforce rules with select employees but not others?

My employer has informed myself and my co-workers that due to the fact that they are in management positions, they cannot interact with me outside of work even though we are off the clock. I have already been informed that while personal relationships can cause situations professionally, she cannot dictate what employees do on their free time. However, I am also aware of the fact that my employer maintains personal relationships with staff members that she directly supervises, and other management staff maintain personal relationships with staff they supervise. Is this a legal issue?

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

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The fact of the matter is that unless you have protection under an employment contract, union agreement, or this action conflicts with existing company policy, you employer can require this. Of course, you all are free to ignore this request. However in an "at will" employment setting, an employer can dictate there terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit; this includes employee interaction off the clock. If you, or any of you, fail to follow this mandate then you can be fired. In fact, you can be terminated for this, any reason, or even no reason at all (with or without notice). So unless you feel that some form of actionable discrimination is a factor here (and you did not indicate that to be the case), you would do well to abide by your employer's directive. 


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