What to do if my boss thinks I behaved in a way that constitutes a conflict of interest for something done on my own time?

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2011

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What to do if my boss thinks I behaved in a way that constitutes a conflict of interest for something done on my own time?

I work for a small gold buying company. Last week a kid came in to see about selling some jewelry he said he found. He did not have valid ID so legally he could not have sold it to us. Knowing he can’t sell it, I told him what he could get if he was able to. Then 2 days later on my day off, I sawthe same item on craigslist for sale, so I contact him and bought it. My boss thinks this is a conflict of interest. Can he dictate what I do on my off time or from whom I buy stuff? I have not signed any documentation or contracts if that makes a difference.

Asked on August 23, 2011 California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

An employer can hire or fire as it sees fit. Additionally, it may dictate the terms and conditions of employment as it deems necessary. For its part, an employee can choose to work, or to continueto work, for an employer ot not. This is called "at will" employment. Exceptions would be if unfavorable treatment was the result of actionable discrimination or was in direct violation of existing company policy. 

There are also other types of employment relationships that do give employees certain rights; namely that which are governed by collective bargaining agreements (think union) or employment contracts. However if you have none, then to restate, an at will employer can dicate the terms of employment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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