Is it legal for my employer to tell me that I could not do business with a competitor or I would be terminated?

UPDATED: Oct 7, 2011

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Is it legal for my employer to tell me that I could not do business with a competitor or I would be terminated?

I have not signed anything nor have I been asked to. I don’t understand how he can regulate my “off-the-clock” time.

Asked on October 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your employer can ask you to do this but you have the right to decline. However, if you do and are an "at will" employee then you can be termiated for this. In fact, you can be fired for this reason, any reason or even no reason at all. The fact is that an employer generally can set the terms and conditions of the workplace as it sees fit. In turn, an employee can choose to work for an employer or not, their choice.

The above holds true unless: this action would violate a union agreement or employment contract; it is prohibited by existing company policy; or such treatment constitutes legally actionable discrimination.

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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