Can My Employer Stop Me from Having a Second Job?


Yes and no. Your employer cannot stop you from having a second job, but they can fire you for it. Like most other states, Tennessee practices at-will employment, so your employer can fire you for practically any reason that is not discriminatory or retaliatory in nature – or for no reason whatsoever.

Your employer can also ask you to sign a non-compete contract, which will limit your ability to work for competing companies. If you make commercials for Nike, for example, you may be unable to take a second job with Adidas. Generally, courts uphold non-compete contracts, so this is one way your employer can prevent you from having a second job. Your company could also have a policy prohibiting “moonlighting,” or performing income-generating activities outside of company hours.

What About a Side Hustle?

Side hustles adhere to the same rules as second jobs, so if you are not violating a non-compete agreement, your side hustle is perfectly legal. Nevertheless, your employer may fire you if:

  • You are using company resources for your side project
  • You work on your side hustle on company time
  • Your performance or productivity suffers
  • Your side hustle violates company policies

Even if you did not sign a non-compete agreement, your employer may be concerned if your side hustle benefits from access to trade secrets or creates a conflict of interest. If you work at an ice cream shop, for example, and your artisanal ice cream line kicks off, your employer may decide it is best for you to part ways.

Can My Employer Tell Me What to Do Outside of Work?

Usually, your employer cannot tell you what to do outside of work, nor make hiring decisions based on what you do when you are off-the-clock. As an employee, you are entitled to privacy, so you do not have to tell your employer about anything that does not apply to your job.

Of course, your employer can see anything you post online because the internet is a public space. Your employer can also access your criminal history and ask you about pending charges and conditions

Once again, in most states, your employer does not need a reason to fire you, so if you do something your employer does not like outside of work, and your boss finds out about it, your job could be on the line – unless you can prove that your employer’s behavior was discriminatory or retaliatory.

Second Jobs and Side-Hustles Are Work-Related

In general, your employer has no right to ask about your life outside of work, and your activities outside of work are your business. Still, having a second job or side hustle might affect your work, so the best course of action when considering a second job or freelance activity is to discuss it with your boss.

Before you accept a second job or professional opportunity, run it by your employer. This way, your boss has the chance to remind you of any company policies that might prohibit moonlighting, and you can gauge whether taking the gig will jeopardize your primary employment.

What If My Employer Violates My Rights?

Your activities outside of work should not influence your employment unless they are strictly work-related.

If your employer crosses a boundary, violates your privacy, discriminates, or retaliates against you, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. You may also need to speak to a lawyer if you need help getting out of a non-compete agreement or another employment contract.

Donati Law, PLLC is focused on improving the lives of our clients and everyone in our community. When employers misbehave, it is our job to hold them accountable, and we can’t do that without you.

We have been helping people like you get justice from their employers for more than 35 years.

Call us at (901) 209-5500 or contact us online today to learn how our team can help you.

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