What are an employee’s rights regarding a change in their hours?

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What are an employee’s rights regarding a change in their hours?

I was fired from my place of employment after working there for 11 years. My boss suddenly chaged my working hours and demanded that I come in 15 minutes earlier. The problem is that my daughter’s daycare opens 15 minutes before the time she wants me there. Mboss then told me that I had 2 weeks to find a new daycare. I am so upset for this isn’t easy and this is my child who has been going to the same daycare for 2 1/2 years. What are my rights? On my schedule my boss still wrote in for the whole of last month 8:00 am not 7:45 am. Can I fight this? Also, she changes the time that I punch in on the computer. I know that is illegal to do this correct? I feel attacked/discriminated.

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) As a general matter, unless you have an employment contract to the contrary, specifying your hours or shifts, your employer may change your hours or shift at any time, for any reason, and you have no grounds to fight this. You may be fired for not accepting the change.

2) An employer may not change an employee's time record; the time record must accurately reflect the hours worked. However, if the change is not actually costing you money (e.g. your still being paid what you should be paid, just that the hours are recorded for a slightly different shift), then while the employer is breaking the law, there effectively is nothing for you to sue for--you haven't been injured. On the other hand, if you have been deprived of income (i.e. not paid for all time worked), then you may have a valid legal claim. Or if you were fired because you complained about this illegal practice, you may have a legal claim, too.

3) Employers may not discriminate against certain protected categories--e.g. against women, against employees over the age of 40, against religious or racial groups, against the disabled. That does not mean they can't take negative action against, say, a women, however; it just means they can't take negative action *because* she is a woman. But her shift could still be changed for business reasons, the boss's or customer convenience, for performance-related issues, etc. If you feel you have in fact been discriminated against because of your membership in a protected catetory, you may have an employment discrimination claim.


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