Can one of my bosses get me in trouble up to firing me for talking off the clock?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can one of my bosses get me in trouble up to firing me for talking off the clock?

So I was shopping at my store saw a friend who works there with me. I started to chat him up while he was still working. We would talk both about work and non-work related things. I was wondering since I am paid hourly and was not to work that day at all if my boss would be allowed to take any action against me or my friend as he was helping out me, as a customer.

Asked on February 15, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Most employment relationships are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. Accordingly, an employee can be disciplined (up to termination) for talking to a co-worker who is on duty even if they themselves are off of the clock. Basically, absent actionable discrimination or the violation of an employment contract or union agreement, an employer can take disciplinary action against a worker for any reason or no reason at all.

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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