Can my employer fire me because I refused to do something that is beyond the scope of my employment?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer fire me because I refused to do something that is beyond the scope of my employment?

I was asked by my employer one day to clean the bathroom and that would have to do this every Friday from now on. This is something that isn’t in my job description. I’m a porter and my contract states I clean and move cars, and also occasionally help with mechanical issues. I told my employer no; I’m not going to clean the company toilets even if everyone else has to do it on different days. They stated it would be fair to me since everyone was designated to do this on different days of the week. If they do fire me, can I sue them because of wrongful termination?

Asked on December 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a union agreement, employment contract or is there company policy that prohibits this action? Is your treatment the result of some form of actionable discrimination? If not, then you appear not to have a valid claim. The fact is that most employment arrangements are what is called "at will". This means that an employer can set the terms of conditons of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes assigning additional job duties to its employees. If an employee fails to follow its employer's directives, they can be discharged. In fact, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. For their part, an employee can comply with their employers mandate, refuse and risk termination or quit.

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 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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