Is it legal for management to make us take on additional job duties?

UPDATED: Sep 21, 2011

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Is it legal for management to make us take on additional job duties?

I am an employee at a national retain chain and my managers are telling me that myself and others in my department will have to start covering other departments during the holidays. What they really mean is “from now on”, so they can cut other employee’s hours. I don’t mind being a team player but they have threatened to remove us from the department and work as cashiers if we don’t learn how to mix paint, cut fabric and issue fishing licenses. I work in electronics and I don’t think its right that try to force us to do other peoples jobs just because they don’t want to put someone in that department.

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a union agreement or employment contract that prohibits this mandate? Does this action conflict with other company policy? Is some form of actionable discrimination a factor here? If not, then you are an "at will" employee. As such you have the right to continue to work for your employer, your choice. In turn, your employer can hire/fire, promote/demote/, increase/decrease/ hours/salary and generally impose whatever terms and conditions of the workplace it deems necessary. If an employee cannot meet the requirements of the workplace they can be discharged, with or without notice.

Bottom line, if you don't do as your employer requires you may lose your job.

Note:  If you are a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to overtime (i.e. 1 1/2 times your salary) for all hours worked over 40 in a week.

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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