Can an employer require evening social events/12-hour days at risk of being fired?

I work remotely for an online school. The employer has decided on short notice that we will be required to travel for 4 days to the home office for a "conference." (Travel was not in the original terms of employment.) We were told that having small children at home or being a single parent is "no excuse." We must attend or be fired. Once there, we're required to attend meetings beginning at 7:30 a.m. and stay through evening social events that are also "mandatory" until about 9 pm each day. Absence from these events has also been stated as grounds for termination. Can an employer require a salaried employee to attend evening events? These aren't meetings, just museum tours and receptions, but we have been told that any absence will result in termination. Thanks.

1 answer  |  asked Mar 1, 2010 8:22 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Virginia Hardwick
As a very general matter, an employer may require salaried employees to work long -- even unreasonable -- hours. (Many attorneys in large law firms have experienced this personally!) The question, though, is whether the employer has properly designated you as a salaried employee rather than an hourly employee. As a rule of thumb, employees who do not have managerial or professional responsibilities should be paid by the hour and should be paid overtime for extra-long days such as those you are describing.

posted by Virginia Hardwick  |  Mar 20, 2010 05:06 AM [EST]

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