If my company is having a Thanksgiving dinner for all our clients, can they make it mandatory for staff to be at this dinner and not pay us?

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If my company is having a Thanksgiving dinner for all our clients, can they make it mandatory for staff to be at this dinner and not pay us?

Asked on November 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under federal law, an employee must be compensated for work that they perform for their employer. While the definition of just what constitutes "work" varies, it generally refers to all mandatory work that an employer requires its employees to perform. So for example, if an employer asks employees to attend certain functions, then the employer is responsible for providing compensation for this time.

However, you should be aware that an employer can make a get-together mandatory only if the activities performed during the gathering are consistent with the job that the employee was hired to do; therefore such a function may not be held purely for social reasons. However, if it is held as a means of encouraging teamwork or in some other way furthing the company's business interests, then the get-together can be considered a form of training, etc. and so the employer can legally mandate attendance.


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