Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Can My Employer Make Me Socialize With Co-Workers? Whether you say yes or no to office events, here are your legal rights

It's holiday party time, so this question I received from a reader is timely:
I just read your article about social media passwords, and I have a question for you that my HR person cannot seem to answer for me. My boss told me that I am not relating to the other employees (I didn't realize that I wasn't) and wants me to go to lunch with them or go shopping with them on the weekend. They are mean and spiteful people who look for any way to manipulate people. She asked me about my personal life and made me feel like I had to answer so I did tell her some things. (I won't make that mistake again.) She made personal comments about my relationship and encouraged me to break it off. I would never, ever tell anyone that. What are my rights here? I spoke with our HR department who said that she can say whatever she wants (no matter how rude!), but I can say, "It's my personal life and I do not wish to talk about it." Did they tell me the truth or leave part out? Can she make me go places on my breaks or off time with people I do not want to go anywhere with? I really need some help.

Thank you for advising me on this.
Especially around the holidays, there's pressure on employees to socialize with co-workers. Some companies try to make the holiday parties mandatory. Others have "team building" events overnight or on weekends. Some expect the team to have lunch together. And guess what? You aren't going to be paid for any of this.

What's an overworked employee to do? Read my AOL Jobs article here to find out what your legal rights are if you want to say no, and what legal rights you have if you decide to attend.

Please don't forget that the ABA Blawg 100 is asking for your votes for your favorite blog in the Labor and Employment category. If you think this blog is worthy, I continue to need your vote. Go to the ABA website here. It takes about 30 seconds to register. Then go to the Labor & Employment category. Find Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home. Look to the left and you'll see a button that says, "Vote Now." Click it. You're done. The polls shut down at close of business this Friday, Dec. 20. If you have trouble voting or questions about anything else, please see the ABA's Blawg 100 FAQ.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.