Can my employer tell me I can’t have a second job?

My employer says that I can’t work a second job, and also seems to want to control how I spend my off duty time.

Posted 03-11-2015

Steve Duggan replies:

There is no law that protects an individual’s right to work a second (or third, or fourth) job. Therefore, nothing prevents an employer from doing so. An employer sometimes has a legitimate interest in how you spend your off-duty time, whether working for another employer or just having fun. For example, working for a competitor would present an obvious conflict. And, professional athletes are often restricted by contract from engaging in dangerous sports while “off duty”, for obvious reasons. An employer has the right to expect that you will be available whenever you are called upon to work. Unless you have a contract that says you only work 9-5, you can be required to work overtime (whether or not hourly or salaried, exempt or non-exempt) and have to be able to come in when called. Most employers, especially in today’s economy, will be understanding of the need to work a second job, so long as the employee recognizes that the full-time employer is the primary employer, and the other job is subordinate to that. I suggest you talk to your manager or HR to fully understand any limits that may exist on supplemental employment.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Steve Duggan graduated from the Law School at the University of Notre Dame while on active duty in the Air Force. He has extensive experience representing management litigating cases of wrongful termination, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. Steve also has experience in all phases of administrative litigation of unfair labor practice charges, and class and individual complaints of employment discrimination. He has been an instructor of seminars for supervisors and managers on labor management relations and other personnel issues, and for lawyers in basic and advanced trial advocacy courses. Steve came on board with Fair Measures in 1998.