Can my supervisor require me to attend after work social events, ie dinner or drinks?

I work for a large company and my particular department supervisor has required our team to attend social events outside of work. Usually dinner and/drinks or something along those lines. We were forced to sign a docment stating that we will attend these outings. If we didn't sign the paper or we were caught complaining about it we were reprimanded and a written warning was put in our personnel file for a bad attitude. I have young children whom I have to find and pay a baby sitter to keep while I am out spending more money (which I don't have) to attend these functions. No other department within the company had to sign anything or even hold these types of functions. Can you please tell me if any part of this is legal, forcing me to attend the functions (each and every time), writing me up for complaining about it to another co-worker, etc?

1 answer  |  asked Feb 14, 2012 3:01 PM [EST]  |  applies to North Carolina

Answers (1)

Chris Wilms
This is a complex issue. You may be looking at a possible wage and hour violation if it is required to attend and if your raises/promotions are affected by failure to attend. You should be compensated for your time if you are required to attend. That being said, some employees are exempt employees and in that case there may be nothing that can be done. Being paid a salary rather than hourly is not necessarily the outcome determinative factor. I would have to know more about the work you do to make that determination.

If you're terminated/demoted/not promoted, or some other adverse employment action is taken against you for complaining about wages, there's a separate cause of action called the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act which provides additional statutory damages.

Both Wage and Hour Act and REDA violations can be reported to the NC Dept of Labor. You should consider acting quickly as there are applicable statutes of limitation which bar you from pursuing a claim after a certain period of time. Calling the NCDOL is the first step to filing a complaint against your employer.

Practically, it may be a mere misunderstanding of the law and corrective action by someone with authority (HR, executives, etc.) might need to intercede to explain to the manager what is wrong with his requirements. Also practically, there are children at home that need to be fed and any legal action is a lengthy process so you will want to think holistically about the best course of action for those affected.

posted by Chris Wilms  |  Feb 14, 2012 7:06 PM [EST]

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