General Question

cynema's avatar

Can my employer legally make me work for more than one of his businesses, if I was only hired for one?

Asked by cynema (118 points ) October 4th, 2011

I am a college student, working PT to FT (depending on the week) for a local inn, in the North East. It occurred to me today that my employer also has me doing several jobs for his real estate business, on top of my work in the hotel. This has never occurred to me before, but I’ve recently been presented with a few other questionable acts, leading me to believe that perhaps, I’m being used. Possibly for, not only two, but several separate companies, without being hired for or paid to do so.
Is this legal?

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22 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

As long as you are being paid by the hour, I don’t see what difference it makes what work you do. You might contact your local department of labor and ask them.

cynema's avatar

I see your angle, but I am being discreet regarding what I’m being asked to do. However, even if we don’t take the creativity of what is being asked of us into question, in all fairness, certainly the amount in yours or my paycheck, depends on what and how much we are being asked to do.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Is the employer requiring you to drive to different locations? Did they mention when they hired you that you’d be doing other work than at the inn? Are you being paid with a check from one business or both or under the table?

cynema's avatar

One business on check, no driving.

CWOTUS's avatar

There are some situations in which this is strictly wrong, though it would be more of a problem for your employer if he were found to be employing you in this way.

For example, if he’s doing contract work for another entity and billing your time by the hour for that work, but having you do work for another business unrelated to that contract, then he’s defrauding his own customer.

Ditto if you’re hired in a “public” occupation of some kind (civil service) and working part of the billed hours for someone else unrelated to the civil service work.

But these aren’t really issues for you to investigate and report on, unless you become certain that there is some kind of fraud or other financial crime being committed. Even if you do report it, you’ll more than likely lose that job, of course. If you enjoy the work, pay and benefits and aren’t doing anything that is prima facie illegal, then there’s no real problem for you, I think.

cynema's avatar

Ok, I see your point. What’s eating me is that our hours at the hotel get cut, depending on how busy the hotel is from week to week, as if there isn’t enough to pay us,.. But then when I do work, all the leftover stuff that didn’t get done for his real estate is left for me to do on top of the hotel. For example, if there’s no one checking in on Monday and Tuesday, then I work for the hotel on Wednesday including all the Real Estate work that didn’t get done on Monday and Tuesday. So I guess my issue is, why are my hours getting cut if I’m working for his real estate company as well? The real estate isn’t affected by the hotel. If that’s legal, it’s saying, it doesn’t matter to anyone other than me that the business whose profits allegedly dictate my pay, isn’t the only one, I’m working for. You see what I mean? It’s extremely shady. Even if I don’t care enough to lose the work… Meanwhile, the morning manager doesn’t lose any work, and she uses us for HER real estate administration as well, on top of the owner’s real estate administration, and the hotel! It doesn’t seem any better when she cuts my hours and then runs off to her country club to play tennis.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Who cares?
Just get even. How, you ask?
1. Watch Shawshank Redemtion.
2. Plan an exit strategy.
3. Keep Working with a smile, repeat till time to implement #2.
:)

Hibernate's avatar

He cannot “force” you but remember he can always fire you when you refuse to do your work. Your contract might stipulate what is your duty but you need to remember than not all the time we do what we are supposed to do.
But there’s always how much do you do for his real estate business and what type of work. If you think it’s illegal you can always give an anonymous call and call people for a check up [those who are to supervise how work is done .. I just miss how they are called now].

Try to get the best of things.

DreamTrees's avatar

Be thankful for the work and add the experience to your resume.

woodcutter's avatar

He’s probably not paying payroll taxes on the second job.
I worked for a construction Co.many years ago that had 3 owners. When I went over 40 hrs, the additional hrs went on the other owners checks which did not have withholding taken out. See. it was a cheesy way of them getting out of paying overtime to their employees. To get any overtime, I would have had to work over 120 hrs a week. Never going to happen.

With another Co, any over 40 hrs was paid in cash in a separate envelope…strait time, so again no OT. Their angle was they didn’t take any taxes out so it was the same. Um, no it’s not. No credit is given for that under the table cash that would apply toward social security credits, so again, the big weenie..And if the tax commission ever got wind of this all that under the table money will have to be claimed as income with back taxes and interest, and penalties. The Co. would probably get a slap on the wrist.

In the Northeast? That sounds scuzzy for that area. You should get work in the South…where you ain’t got jack for rights. Thats why I’m self employed now.

filmfann's avatar

The only way I see this being a problem is if either the hotel or the real estate office is a franchise, and the two companys are not related.
For example, if your boss owns the franchise to a Best Western, and you are working there, recieving a check with the company logo on the check, and then you do side work for your bosses private real estate office, doing something that clearly isn’t related to the hotel, then the Best Western Company is paying for real estate work they have no involvement in.
If he owns both (Billy Bob Motel and Billy Bob Real Estate), then you should be happy you have a job, because there is no conflict. You are working for him.

jca's avatar

If you’re working 40 hours per week and getting paid for 40 hours per week, that seems to be it. As far as “doing this work and doing that work” you can do what you can do within the time period you’re getting paid for. That’s it.

wundayatta's avatar

Your employer can’t make you do anything. You are not a slave. You can always choose to complain or refuse to work somewhere. He also doesn’t have to employ you.

If you have a contract, such as if you belong to a union, then you can negotiate working conditions. Even without a union, you can negotiate working conditions, but you have less power. But if he likes you, and you really don’t want to do what he has you doing, then let him know, and see if you can get an alternate assignment. Just be prepared to piss him off and lose your job. It all depends on how reasonable he is.

Think of it this way. If he won’t negotiate with you, then do you really want to be working for him?

mrrich724's avatar

I’d say if you are doing 40 hours of work, and getting paid a fair rate for 40 hours of work, it’s not a big deal.

If you are somehow being jipped, like working overtime but not getting paid overtime, or doing $20/hr work for $10/hr, then there is an issue…

cynema's avatar

Thanks everybody for the great responses. I’m not necessarily saying the work I’m being asked to do is outrageous, but it kinda eats at me that they act like this isn’t any of my business. As if I don’t know what’s going on. So I thought “Is there some legal reason they are acting strange about this?”
Of course, it’s a PT college job so, its not worth the hassle but I can’t understand why they would be so shady about it. I’m certainly approachable and it’s not as if I can’t see what’s going on.
LSS. I think the shady behavior is a little bit of guilt on their end because I’m a good employee and maybe they are used to people being a bit less conscientiousness. I’m not gonna retaliate even if there is def some underhandedness to it, which involves our pay. I’m not gonna get into that because it’s not worth losing the job over. To be perfectly honest, I just get pissed off that I’m supposed to ignore it, and never bring it up. I obviously know and Im good to them and I haven’t left, so…just be straight up with me. They even go as far as to make things up for us to handle, that obviously don’t need to be done, just so this extra work can be thrown in… Just tell me what you want. Its like they are afraid Ill quit if they address it directly…

wundayatta's avatar

Why do you feel you can’t be straight with them and ask them what the policy is and why they have changed your work the way they have? You can do this in a neutral way—looking for information instead of trying to complain of make a federal case. They might not realize it could have this affect, so you may be doing them a favor by bringing it to their attention.

jca's avatar

Would you rather they cut your hours because the one business does not have enough for you to do for the quantity of hours you get paid for now?

CWOTUS's avatar

When you get hired by the business owner – and let’s assume that he’s not doing anything shady, illegal or unethical, simply “asking you to work over several businesses” – there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s dependent upon any agreement that you make with him regarding hours, places and conditions of work.

However when another of his employees (the hotel manager, for example) enlists you to do work for her, then – unless she has some kind of side agreement with your mutual employer that she’s authorized to do this – she may be “stealing” from him by having you work for her.

Since you’re a new and more or less casual employee, it’s not really your place to delve into all of this and figure out the nuances of who may be stealing from whom – if anyone. If I were you I’d keep my nose down, my eyes and ears open… and a bound notebook that none of them sees, just in case.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Most people do not take the time to actually READ the paperwork in their employee packet that they SIGN upon hire *Also without reading usually… They seldom give you time to or even expect that you really do.

You have to be careful in situations like this. Especially in chains or franchaises there is usually fine print in those employee packets that say how you agree to follow rules, travel, and work in other positions, doing work that doesn’t match your job description in sites you may not want to go to.

Be careful, dig out your packet and read it! Chances ar you agreed to this and might not even know it.

njnyjobs's avatar

If you’re not being short-changed, what are you complaining about. It wouldn’t matter to me who’s writing the check as long as I am made whole of the work/time I had put in.

Besides, be grateful that your boss has so much trust in you. That loyalty alone will not be unremembered.

The only drawback you need to watch out for is any kind of personal mishap. Make sure that if you get into any accident while performing work for the other companies, is that you’re covered by Workman’s Compensation and/or Disability insurance by your employer of record. . . . so be careful about that.

mrrich724's avatar

If you feel like something shady is going on, just get out. It’s a PT college job. It’s not worth potentially getting mixed up in something bad!

Cythraul's avatar

I get what you’re saying cinema, thought no-one else seems to.

If you boss is making you do work unrelated to the company which pays your wages, then it actually puts your job security in jeopardy. If, through spending time working for the ‘secondary concern’, the ‘primary concern’ (i.e. the job you were hired for and which pays your wages) starts to fail, then you may be laid off. We all have a right to know that our efforts are reinforcing the success of the company we work for, and thus ensuring our salaries are secure. If we are being paid by one company to essentially work for a different company for free, then that is (or could be) detrimental to the success of the first company who actually employs us.

I’m in a similar situation. I know it’s morally wrong of my boss, for the above stated reason, but I don’t know if it’s unlawful.

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