Can I be written up/fired for smoking a cigarette off the clock while wearing my companies logo if I paid for the uniform?

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Can I be written up/fired for smoking a cigarette off the clock while wearing my companies logo if I paid for the uniform?

My job recently stated that we are no longer allowed to smoke cigarette’s off clock and off property in our uniform because it has their logo on it. Yet, we employee’s are required to buy our uniforms making them our property (I feel). However, they’ve said that if we get caught we will be given a write up and then terminated for a subsequent offense. I then posted a picture (caption: “Me not being dictated off the clock” of me smoking a cigarette in my hat, off duty, off the property. The manager wrote me up because I was smoking in my hat. Is this legal for them to do?

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An employer can legally mandate just about whatever it wants with respect to employee behavior. This is known as "at will" employment. Basically, an employer can dictate the terms and conditions of employment; in turn an employee can choose to work (or continue to work) for an employer or not.

Exceptions to the foregoing would be if there is conflicting company policy on the issue, or if legally actionable discrimination was a factor in the employee's treatment, or if there is an employment contract or union agreement prohibiting such action.

Bottom line, your employer's action was perfectly permissible. Do it again or you may have plenty of time for on-line postings.


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