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?

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 9 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.


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