Can an employer fire an employee for having asecond job as an independent contractor?

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Can an employer fire an employee for having asecond job as an independent contractor?

My house/dogsitter also works in my building part-time (4 nights) as 1of our door people. Recently a resident reported her being in the building “socializing” on a day when she was not to be working the desk. The complaint by this resident has lead to her being threatened with termination if she continues to house sit for myself or others in the building. This woman has been a loyal employee for almost a decade here. Many of us who live here and travel for a living depend heavily on her to care for our pets. She only does this on time that she isn’t working for the building. It’s never a conflict.

Asked on March 25, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, an employer can do this.  If terminated, your dog sitter would have no grounds for a wrongful termination claim.  The reason -  most employment arrangements are what is known as "at will" employment.  This means that an employee can choose to work for an employer or not, and an employer can hire or fire an employee for any reason or even no reason.  While seemingly unfair it's the law. There are exceptions however. If this action was not allowed by virtue of an employment contract, union agreement, or company policy.  Also, discrimination must not play a role in termination. 


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