Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all part of one big package that define the American experience. The ability to make our own choices are part of what sets our country apart. Unfortunately, when we work for an employer, we voluntarily give up some of our choices and must follow our employers policies, work hours, and procedures. This is what we sign up for in exchange for getting paid. There are, however, limits to the control that an employer can impose on your choices. One question that we frequently get involves an employer’s ability to dictate what you do on your own time. Specifically, can your employer limit your ability to make money outside of your work hours?
Moonlighting is Generally Protected Activity
Moonlighting refers to the act of working a second job on the off hours of your primary employment. This can include a really wide range of money-making endeavors, like self-employment, working a night job, selling products at conventions, or managing real estate.
The laws of California generally protect the rights of California workers to freely work. California Labor Code section 96 essentially prohibits employers from punishing employees who engage in moonlighting in their free time. Specifically, subsection (k) states that allows for “Claims for loss of wages as the result of demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” This has been interpreted to encompass demotions and firings of employees due to lawful moonlighting that employers do on their own time.
Exceptions to Labor Code Section 96
There are, however, circumstances in which an employer may have a legitimate concern regarding an employee’s moonlighting activity. Examples of this include:
- Engaging in illegal activity.
- You are performing moonlighting work during work hours or when you are on the clock with your employer.
- You are using company resources or property, like computers, vehicles, office supplies, or money to support your moonlighting activity.
- You are getting inadequate sleep or are distracted to the point that your job performance suffers.
- You use confidential information, trade secrets, or other employer data to support your side activities.
- The nature of your work is in direct conflict with your company, such as competing for your employer’s clients, working for a competitor, providing consultation to adversaries or competitors of your employer, or engaging in paid activity that would harm the goodwill or reputation of your employer.
Let Moss Bollinger Work For You
You have a lot of legal rights as a citizen and employee of California. This means that employers are very limited in dictating how you live your life or the choices you make outside of your work hours. If your employer is preventing in engaging in lawful activity during your free time, then you may have a legal claim. If you want help, contact Moss Bollinger. For years, we have stood up to controlling and unlawful employer actions. Let us stand up for you. We work on a contingency basis, which means we take no fees up front. Call our office today at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or reach us online.