Can an employer require you to purchase its meal plan?

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Can an employer require you to purchase its meal plan?

I’m currently an employer where as part of the condition of employment was that I live in their lodging I still have to pay for the lodging. As part of their lodging, I am also required to buy their meal plan as a condition for living in that lodging. I would prefer not to, especially considering the meal plan costs $22 per day but they have stated that only through medical and religious exemptions are accepted.

What are my options? Can they really force me to buy their meal plan if I

cannot eat the food? Scheduling conflicts with the cafeteria

Asked on June 30, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, an employer can require that its employees purchase its meal plan. The fact is that most employment is what is known as "at will". This means that an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much a sit sees fit. The 2 exceptions being if this action violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, or your treatment constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination (which it does not appear to). Bottom line, you either comply with thismandate, complain and risk termination, or quit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can require you to buy their meal plan. Employers may put essentially any terms or conditions they like on employment: common ones for many jobs include having to buy uniforms or company shirts, for example. It is legal to require, as a condition of employment, that employees buy the company meal plan, and employees who do not may be terminated.


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