Can my job tell my spouse where he or she can work?

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Can my job tell my spouse where he or she can work?

I work for a convenience store and my spouse works for a gas station 35 miles away. My spouse is an Assistant Manager and I am a Kitchen Manager. They have determined that this is a conflict of interest and against our policy. They have given me the ultimatum of if my spouse does not quit his or her job then I will be fired. When I was hired this policy was not around. Am I being wronged or are they within the law?

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, , your employer can fire you for this.  While you don't have to comply with its request, you can be fired for not doing so.  The fact is that most states employment relationships are what is known as "at will".  Accordingly, an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit (including the one outlined here).  An employee in turn, can work for an employer or not, their choice.  Exceptions would be if there is a union/employment agreement that does not allow for such action, or this situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination (i.e., for reasons due to your race, religion, age, disability, sex, national origin).  Additionally, this action is not allowed if it violates exisiting company policy (which it does not).  The fact that the company changed is policy is totally permissible; it's done all of the time.


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