Can an employer require staff to do construction work while insurance pays them their salary?

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Can an employer require staff to do construction work while insurance pays them their salary?

The retail business burned down and insurance is covering employees full pay for 60 days. Can the employer require only the younger guys who were retail cashiers, sales clerks and retail managers to work doing clean up and construction during that 60 day period, even though that’s not what their job was? Also, not have the women or older staff required to do anything.

Asked on January 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) The employer decides what an employee's job is, not the employee. So if the employer says that your job, for the next 2 months, is to clean and renovate, you clean and renovate. The only exception would be if you had a written employment contract defining your job--then you only have to do what the contract says.
2) Unless it's specifically prohibited discrimination (see below), employees do not need to treat employees alike or fairly. Some may be asked to do extra work but not others.
3) The law prohibits discrimination against older employers, but not younger. So while you could not make employees over 40 do extra work without requiring it of younger employees, you could have younger staff do the clean up and reconstruction without making the older staff do it.


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