Employers have long tried to figure out ways to control their employees not only while they are on the clock, but also during their personal time. Joining a company can sometimes feel like a way of life rather than a way to earn income to sustain yourself. The latest way employers are overstepping their bounds is through “moonlighting” bans, or rules restricting employees who want to take on a second job. The National Labor Relations Board, however, recently struck down one such ban, sending a message to other employers across the country.
This is a major victory for employees, who already have more than enough burdens to carry. Our employment lawyers know if someone is taking on a second job, it is almost always because they are in need of more cash in order to make ends meet. The last thing workers should have to worry about is whether taking on additional work to provide for their families will jeopardize their first source of income.
An NLRB administrative law judge recently ruled on a company policy that put undue restrictions on the type of second job an employee could take on. Limitations imposed by the company stated that the job could not be inconsistent with the company’s interests and could not reflect poorly on the company’s public image. While the company argued the policy was meant to prevent employees from working for competitors, the judge rightly countered that insisting employees put company interests first even in their free time had the potential to infringe on unions, whose interests would serve other employees rather than the company. Whether intentional or not, the wording would affect workers’ right to organize, and thus those parts of the policy were struck down.According to an article from the Society for Human Resource Management, a third point of the moonlighting policy was not contested: employees could not take on a second job that would take up so much time that it hurt their performance at the company. Therefore, while an outright ban is not allowed and certain guidelines are frowned upon, it is permissible for a company to have moonlighting policies in place in general. Essentially a company can set rules emphasizing that their employees must meet the demands of their primary job first, and so long as that work is not affected, they are free to take on more work on their own time.
How employees spend their free time can be a tricky gray area in which there are not a lot of concrete protections. Because California is an at-will state, employers can fire employees who don’t have an agreement in place for any reason at all, with the exception of discrimination based on a protected status. If you feel you have been unfairly targeted for working a second job that did not adversely affect your work at your first job, it would be a smart move to discuss the details of your case with one of our skilled Riverside employee rights attorneys. We can sort out the details of your situation, as well as your company policies, and give you advice on the best way to proceed to best protect your career and your family.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. and Steve Lavender, May 16, 2018, National Labor Relations Board Decision
More Blog Entries:
Three Things to Know About California Non-Compete Agreements, Aug. 3, 2017, Riverside Employment Lawyers Blog