What leg do I stand on if the GM wants me to work hours that I don’t want to?

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What leg do I stand on if the GM wants me to work hours that I don’t want to?

Having turned 60 and having been in the workforce for 41 years, I decided to begin working part-time. It was approved both by the GM and owner of the company. My current schedule is a 3-day work week and it has worked out nicely. Last week, the new GM said he is going to cut my hours. Now my work week is 2 days. No one else has been asked to cut their hours. The office staff will be going to a trade show soon and while the GM says my hours are cut, he wants me at the office to cover the phones. I don’t want to. What rights do I have to turn him down?

Asked on April 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Basically, you have no leg to stand on.  Unless you have an employment/union contract or there is company policy to the contrary, you must work the hours that you have been scheduled for.  In an "at will" employment relationship (and most are), an employer cannot only hire/fire employees as it wants (with or without reason), it can also increase/decreasesalary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit.  In turn, an employee can choose to work for their employer or not.  The only exception would be if discrimination played a role in the situation; age can place a person in a proteced class under workplace laws.  However, under the facts presented here, age per se does not appear to be such a factor.  Bottom line, if you refuse to work your scheduled shift, you could be terminated for cause.  


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