What is the law regarding the management of employee hours?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is the law regarding the management of employee hours?

I work at a large scale retail store. It’s a slow time at the moment, and the managers said they are only getting a 200 hours budget for the next week. They have used 160 of these hours between themselves so that they can stay full time, while cutting the rest of us down to only 1 or 2 days a week. Is it legal for them to split the hours just between themselves and cut the other 10 employees down to a day or 2 a week?

Asked on July 14, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a union agreement or employment contract that addresses the number of hours that you are to be scheduled for? Is the reduction of hours a form of legally actionable discrimination or retaliation (which it does not appear to be). If not, then your company can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit, including who gets what hours to work. This is known as "at will" employment. Accordingly, you can either accept your schedule, complain and risk termination, or quit. That having been said, since there has been such a drastic reduction in your hours, check with your state's department of labor and find out if you are eligible for unemployment of you quit, since yomay have been "constructively discharged".

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