The Old Switcheroo: An Employer’s Obligation to Employee Work Hours

January 8, 2009


A reader recently asked if it is legal for an employer to cut an employee’s hours and assign work instead to an employee who is newly hired.

The short answer to the question is a qualified yes. The exception is if the employer’s action is prohibited by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement if it is a case in which there is union representation. The other exception is if the employer’s treatment of the employee is because of his or her protected class. Protected class includes race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.

So, if the boss is assigning your hours to the new hire because the new hire is of a different race, religion, gender, etc., that action could violate local, state and federal laws against discrimination. However, seniority, in and of itself, is no protection unless pursuant to the terms of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.