Can an employer require his employees to clean and can he fire them if they don’t?

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Can an employer require his employees to clean and can he fire them if they don’t?

I work as a waitress at a restaurant that is owned by one person. Every year he closes for one week for vacation. On the day before he reopens, he makes everyone clean the whole restaurant. He implies that if you don’t clean, you can lose your job. He makes us use very strong chemicals and even though I wore long pants, rubber gloves and a mask, I still had chemical burns on my knees and elbows. Also, I felt a burning sensation on my finger and when I removed the glove, some of my skin was burned off. My boss made a joke and asked me if I needed a bandage.

Asked on July 28, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can require you to do this. As an "at will" employer he can set the terms of employment, as well as hire and fire as he sees fit; as an at will employee you can choose to work for him or not. Unless there is an employment/union agreement prohibiting such action, this violates company policy, or this in some way involves workplace discrimination, your employer is violating no law. Further if you refuse to do this you can be termiated with or without notice.

Note: You are however entitled to be paid for this work.


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