Question About the Law

Does anybody know the answer to the following: is it legal for a state university in this country to force its employees to work on a weekend (Friday night and then full working days on Saturday and Sunday) without any warning?

It has not been specified in the contracts, it has never been done before, it hasn’t been discussed by the Faculty Senate.

In short, can an employer unilaterally choose that you work on a weekend and that’s that?

P.S. I’m not talking about every weekend. Just one or two weekends per year.

58 thoughts on “Question About the Law

  1. I’m no lawyer, but I’d bet that unless your contract specifically discusses this issue, you can only get out of it on religious objections. Employers generally get to decide terms that aren’t otherwise specified- but read your contract very carefully before you give in. personally I’ve never known of anybody who had guaranteed weekends, even in professional careers

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    1. “personally I’ve never known of anybody who had guaranteed weekends, even in professional careers”

      – Really??? And in the meanwhile somebody in a parallel thread is telling me how this country is the world leader in human rights.

      I’m sorry to hurt the feelings of the patriotically minded folks, but this is barbarity.

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    2. This is the case as far as I know. So long it’s not in the contract, and isn’t seen as unreasonable (requiring a single employee to do two jobs, for instance), the employer can basically require anything.

      In my industry (computer programming), 10-12 hour days—or even more: in the game industry, some people literally work all night at times—and full weekends as the project demands are pretty much unremarkable. I think it’s supposed to be one the things one gives up in exchange for being a salaried professional. Or something.

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      1. “In my industry (computer programming), 10-12 hour days—or even more: in the game industry, some people literally work all night at times—and full weekends as the project demands are pretty much unremarkable. I think it’s supposed to be one the things one gives up in exchange for being a salaried professional. ”

        – I thought that people often chose to work on weekends (to finish a project, etc.) But I had no idea a person could be commanded to do so.

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      2. I worked in the public accounting industry, and many firms in our city have “mandatory” saturdays for their staff during the busy season – including administrative staff.

        Our firm always emphasizes that we don’t have mandatory saturdays… yet. In other words, we’d better show up on Saturdays, or at least work at home, or else they WILL require it.

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  2. Somebody is telling you how this country is the world leader in human rights???? Does somebody even believe such a statement any more? I guess they do, after all the US is the country where people think that if they believe in something strongly enough, then it’s true.

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      1. I almost, almost spat out my drink reading that tripe. Yeesh!
        What a wonderful world this would be if the ignorant would only open their mouths to stuff in bread, and only typed the urls to lolcats, instead of inflicting their stupidity on us all.

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  3. The Department of Labor enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Often the public thinks that the FLSA regulates “leave benefits.” In fact, there are a number of employment practices which FLSA does not regulate. For example, it does not require:

    Vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay.
    Meal or rest periods, holidays off, or vacations.
    Premium pay for weekend or holiday work.
    Pay raises or fringe benefits.
    Discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of final wages to terminated employees.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as personal leave, vacations, sick leave, or federal or other holidays. These benefits are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative). (((((Note: 8% or so of US workers have rights as union workers, 92% I think aren’t union members – e.g. their “representative” is essentially their boss)))))

    Workers who are covered by the FLSA are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Certain exemptions apply to specific types of businesses or specific types of work.
    An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek of at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime hours are worked on such days.

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    1. “The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime hours are worked on such days.”

      – This is quite shocking but my question is not even about that. I don’t get how it is possible that people can be simply informed that they are working all through the weekend because some bureaucrat decided so and that’s it. We are talking about the kind of employment where nobody could have possibly guessed at the time of signing the contract that this might be required.

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    2. Clarissa is a college professor, which means she probably is an “exempt employee,” and anything about minimum wage or overtime pay for working over 40 hours in a workweek doesn’t apply to her.

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  4. are you talking like coming in for those stupid student recruitment fairs? umm yes for sure that falls under the “other duties as stipulated” part of the job description that you probably have but have probably never seen!

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    1. It’a requirement to work through the weekend if you are teaching a certain kind of course. You are supposed to “share a bonding experience with the students” (direct quote) right before the semester begins.

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      1. bloggerclarissa : You are supposed to “share a bonding experience with the students”

        Everybody gather round the drum circle let’s all sing some kum ba fucking yah.

        What student wants to come to school on the weekend to share a “bonding experience” with a professor? If I wanted to bond with a professor I’d wait till grades were posted and then invite them out for beer and fried mushrooms.

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        1. “What student wants to come to school on the weekend to share a “bonding experience” with a professor? ”

          – Good question. The students are, actually, being forced to participate in this, too. So it will be a really cool bonding moment between two groups of folks who don’t want to be there.

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  5. “are you talking like coming in for those stupid student recruitment fairs?”
    If that’s what you are talking about, bring your Kindle and relax. The table with Spanish faculty never has to many visitors (in fact, most students I know have major in Spanish in my institution have declared the major after one or two years).

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  6. Well for us, it depends on when that weekend falls. We are under contract for 9 months. So if that Saturday falls during the school year, then yes: they can make us come in. Like Femomhist, we have to come in for one student recrutiment event a year. We are salaried–not hourly–employees; so that Satruday is theoretically compensated. If the Saturday falls during the summer (for instance, one year we had a horrible Saturday training during July), they can’t “make” us come. But they can “encourage” us to come. And IF we do come, they have to pay us extra for our time since it falls outside of the time we are udner contract for. That’s how it works at my school anyway.

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    1. “But they can “encourage” us to come. And IF we do come, they have to pay us extra for our time since it falls outside of the time we are udner contract for. ”

      – I would understand it if it worked this way. But it doesn’t. A group of profs was informed that one of the courses they teach now includes this pre-semester “bonding weekend” with the students. I’m not one of the people who teaches this course (and now that this happened, I will do all I can to avoid it) but if I were, I have no idea how I would be supposed to make it to campus and back home on Sunday. BUSES DON’T RUN ON SUNDAY. This makes me housebound during that day. This is why it is doubly wrong to make people come to work during weekends. It is often physically impossible for them to do so.

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  7. Ugh. The “bonding thing.” We have smething similar for one of the courses at my school. I also avoid that course like the plague. It sounds awful to me. And ultimately counter-productive. I like to be friendly with my students. But I have no desire to form a “personal” connection with them. I want to teach them and I want them to learn. I also think that type of thing is particualrly harmful for female profs. Students _already_ see women as nurtuters–not necessarilly as intellectuals or authorities. I personally don’t have any problem projecting a sense of authority in the classroom. (But even in my case, I’ve had to “reign” some students in–usually males.) And I think that if I participated in some sort of hippy skippy pre-semester bonding, it would make establishing a professional, respectful relationship with students more difficult.(And don’t even get me started with the flaws with public transportation in this country!)

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    1. Besides, the first week of the semester is very hard as it is. What sense does it even make to force people to work all through the weekend when they have to start teaching on Monday?

      Ridiculous.

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  8. I have certainly had to work very occasional weekend days, mostly for recruiting and meetimg with prospective students. Once, because of a major snowstorm which closed the university for a day, I had to give a final exam on a Sunday. Given all the other freedoms/flexibility I have, I think it is not a big deal.

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    1. Do you think it’s acceptable that some bureaucrat can disregard the principles of shared governance and academic freedom we have at our university and dictate to professors how they should structure their courses?

      I have attended university events (convocation ceremony) on Saturdays but I was given a choice. I find it humiliating that adults, professors, scholars should be TOLD where to appear and how to “bond” with their own students by some paper pusher who has probably never seen the inside of a classroom.

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  9. OK, folks, this gets better and better.

    Guess what the weekend-long mandatory bonding experience between the profs and the students includes.

    CLEANING THE CEMETERY TOGETHER.

    I am not kidding.

    This is all followed by this specific group of profs being forced to adopt the syllabus and the teaching strategy devised by the administration in this specific group of courses.\

    And this is just the beginning.

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  10. Is this for freshman seminars and if so can you get out of them? I think we clean out the swamps and work construction for Habitat for Humanity during freshman seminars, but I am not sure. I say, I’m a professor not a youth minister.

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    1. Yes, it’s the new version of freshman seminar. I’m not scheduled to teach them next year. But it’s the principle of the thing that bugs me.

      We have no swamps to clean out but city parking lots in East St. Louis will be part of such bonding activities. Some faculty members have already voiced a concern about what happens if a student hurts him or herself in the process. People say there are hypodermic needles that can be stumbled on in those places.

      I find this all to be nothing short of bizarre.

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      1. Move to a Catholic institution: we only have the Common Reading experience, by which I am forced to read and grade 20 bad essays on the assigned book, and then meet with students I will never see again for an hour and a half to discuss the book. It happens during the week, in mid-August. Last year we read Persepolis, wasn’t bad. I suffer for the poor students that get the math professor assigned (yes, all faculty has to participate).

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  11. We have the common reading experience, too. That was probably invented at Cambridge or somewhere like that, centuries ago. Harvard students at one time had to write an essay a day and faculty had to grade them.

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  12. Clarissa – IF you exclude what SPECIFICALLY – is stated in your contract – and I’d be surprised if your contract Forbids – most anything – your University can do most anything – with Zero warning if they so wish. What rights you have may be stronger if you are unionized, but even then your rights are limited.

    You may have some contractual rights which may give you some types of appeal rights if you are punished for disobeying your bosses.

    I don’t know why you (naively) believe that being a professor somehow gives you particular rights. I can better understand any naivete to believing that this country gives workers basic rights!

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    1. I don’t think I should have a right to free weekends because I’m a professor. I think everybody should have free weekends. I thought it was a basic human right – like the 8 hour working day – that had been won by the labor movement of the early XXth century. This is why I’m shocked. People’s specific professions are completely orrelevant here.

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      1. What about the students who were working at the restaurant you went to last night? They had to work Friday night, think they all have Saturday night off? What about workers in hospitals and nursing homes? Police stations? Bus drivers? The disc jockey on the radio right now (and technicians supporting him)? Store and mall employees, emergency road crews, babysitters, people putting on fairs and other events… Weekends would be pretty boring at best and unsafe at worst if no one worked weekends. I have never had guaranteed weekends off. Even now, as a grad student I am working at home today (writing a grant) and have to go in to the lab later to start an experiment.

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        1. “What about the students who were working at the restaurant you went to last night”

          – They are getting paid to work and they choose their schedule.

          ” What about workers in hospitals and nursing homes? Police stations? Bus drivers? The disc jockey on the radio right now (and technicians supporting him)”

          – Have all these people been forced into those schedules, or what? Here, we are talking about a situation where people work their regular work week and then are forced to come in on the weekend for no extra pay and completely against their will on top of that. Are you supporting this or are you just being annoying for the sake of being annoying as usual?

          “Even now, as a grad student I am working at home today (writing a grant) and have to go in to the lab later to start an experiment.”

          – Once again, that’s your choice.

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  13. “- I didn’t go to a restaurant last night. Please try to read carefully.”

    Okay *****TODAY***** you went to a restaurant – which has no effect on the relevance of my comment. None whatsoever. God forbid someone not “pay attention!” and get a completely unimportant detail slightly wrong about your life, even though it has no effect whatsover on the point they are am making. Jeezus fucking christ girl.

    “Have all these people been forced into those schedules, or what?…- Once again, that’s your choice…”

    You said:

    “I think everybody should have free weekends. I thought it was a basic human right – like the 8 hour working day – ”

    But never mind.

    “Are you supporting this or are you just being annoying for the sake of being annoying as usual?”

    I think you are making an enormous mountain out of a molehill and sound very spoiled.

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    1. “Okay *****TODAY***** you went to a restaurant – which has no effect on the relevance of my comment. None whatsoever. God forbid someone not “pay attention!” and get a completely unimportant detail slightly wrong about your life, even though it has no effect whatsover on the point they are am making.”

      – It starts with small details and then snowballs into endless discussions where you harp on your weird fantasies with no regard for what was actually being said.

      “Have all these people been forced into those schedules, or what?…- Once again, that’s your choice…”

      You said:

      “I think everybody should have free weekends. I thought it was a basic human right – like the 8 hour working day – ”

      But never mind.”

      – Never mind what? You don’t manage to see the difference between having a right and choosing not to exercise it? This is too complex for you? An example: I passionately defend the women’s right to an abortion, even though I would not have chosen to exercise it myself. Is the concept of choice alien to you?

      “I think you . . . sound very spoiled.”

      – Thank you for the compliment. 🙂 You can be nice if you try, eh? 🙂

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      1. How many of those people would love to have every weekend off? Probably most of them would choose weekends off if they could. Nurses and busdrivers, students and services workers are “choosing” to work weekends? Exactly what is their alternate choice? Not to attend college? Not to work at all? Yet you are making a huge fuss over potentially being asked to work one weekend.

        “- It starts with small details and then snowballs into endless discussions where you harp on your weird fantasies with no regard for what was actually being said.”

        This has never happened, not once. It is only your megalomaniac interpretation of comments that you cannot immediately process from your extremely narrow point of view.

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        1. “Nurses and busdrivers, students and services workers are “choosing” to work weekends? Exactly what is their alternate choice?”

          – The alternative, of course, is to find a different employment. But now that I have discovered that the right to a weekend is not guaranteed in this country, the entire issue is moot.

          “Yet you are making a huge fuss over potentially being asked to work one weekend.”

          – No, not asked. When you are asked, you get a chance to give an answer. Here, people (not me, other people) are being forced. No asking takes place. See the difference?

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      2. ““Nurses and busdrivers, students and services workers are “choosing” to work weekends? Exactly what is their alternate choice?”

        – The alternative, of course, is to find a different employment.”

        Right, and leave school, or the nursing profession, or go hungry. Great choice!

        “But now that I have discovered that the right to a weekend is not guaranteed in this country, the entire issue is moot.”

        So nurses don’t work weekends in other countries?

        “- No, not asked. When you are asked, you get a chance to give an answer. Here, people (not me, other people) are being forced. No asking takes place. See the difference?”

        Honestly, schoolmarm nitpickers are the most annoying types! Here you go:

        “Yet you are making a huge fuss over potentially being required to work one weekend.”

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        1. ““But now that I have discovered that the right to a weekend is not guaranteed in this country, the entire issue is moot.”

          So nurses don’t work weekends in other countries?”

          – Your unhealthy patriotism blinds you to the obvious. There are night shifts and weekend shifts everywhere in the world. Yet, people get compensated for working them. And the possibility of night and weekend shifts is discussed in advance, allowing people to make a choice. If I had been told before signing my contract that this current employment I have right now involved a possibility of me being forced to work on weekends, I would not have accepted it. But to spring it on people after they have invested years into their tenure process, is completely wrong.

          ““- No, not asked. When you are asked, you get a chance to give an answer. Here, people (not me, other people) are being forced. No asking takes place. See the difference?”

          Honestly, schoolmarm nitpickers are the most annoying types! Here you go:

          “Yet you are making a huge fuss over potentially being required to work one weekend.””

          – The difference between “asked” and “required” still eludes you? You are going to be quite a huge failure as a scientist because you are so careless with details.

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      3. “- Your unhealthy patriotism blinds you to the obvious. ”

        LOL. Besides being hilarious, this doesn’t make any sense. I think it’s about *your* obsession with *other peoples’* supposed patriotism, Clarissa.

        “told before signing my contract that this current employment I have right now involved a possibility of me being forced to work on weekends, I would not have accepted it. ”

        Over one weekend a year? Even though you were willing to sign on to live in a place you constantly criticize as unfit to even raise a child in, has bad food, etc, this one service weekend would have been the deal breaker, eh? And no, people do not have the “choice” not to work weekends while going to school, or to not take service jobs (which generally require some weekends) when there is No Other Work.

        “- The difference between “asked” and “required” still eludes you? You are going to be quite a huge failure as a scientist because you are so careless with details.”

        They are used nearly interchangeably at times, and need I remind you that this is some chick’s on-line diary? I will be a huge success, don’t you worry. And it’s a good thing that you didn’t go into science. After that evolution thread it’s obvious that you are the one who would have been a huge failure.

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        1. ““- The difference between “asked” and “required” still eludes you? You are going to be quite a huge failure as a scientist because you are so careless with details.”

          They are used nearly interchangeably at times”

          – OK, another conversation with Isabel that is a total waste of time.

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  14. When someone comes over to you in a bar after you’ve had too much to drink and says “I’m going to have to ask you to leave” do you really think you have a choice in the matter?

    I can think of lots of other examples.

    “- OK, another conversation with Isabel that is a total waste of time.”

    You sound bitter- you mean another argument with Isabel that you couldn’t win by playing the grammar card 🙂 You are clearly not fluent in colloquial English, not surprisingly. No big deal. 🙂

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    1. This wasn’t happening in a bar, you weird creature. This is a scholarly environment we are discussing. But I have no doubt that you derive all your knowledge of human interactions from hanging around bars and conversing colloquially with drunks. No wonder you are so bothered by highly educated people who point out your numerous errors.

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      1. “This wasn’t happening in a bar, you weird creature. This is a scholarly environment we are discussing. ”

        And yet I used the word on a comment thread on somebody’s personal diary! Not exactly my definition of a “scholarly environment”. 🙂

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  15. Isabel, when a college student applies for a job, they do get to pick their hours. Every shift they work, they have indicated at some point that they are available to work those hours. The final result is up to negotiation with the employer, but local employers are aware that a college student has other commitments. Those who work on both Friday and Saturday at one point told their employer that they can come in.

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    1. And insisting on weekends off will have no effect on the ability on the average student to get a job in the service industry? Yeah, right. And what if they don’t want to work late shifts on school nights? What is your point?

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      1. First: most students won’t insist on weekends off. If they’re getting a job, they’re in it for the money, and working weekends means more money, because they can work more hours. However, stating outright that they can’t work weekends won’t usually affect a new hire, especially on-campus. Most students on campus actually don’t work weekends, and generally work two to three times a week. Those who work weekends off-campus, again, have told their employer that they are able to work weekends.

        Second: my point is that when a professor is hired, nowhere is it implied that they should work weekends. You brought up the argument that students work weekends, that they don’t choose their hours; therefore professors shouldn’t be able to contest working weekends. But the situation is completely different. There is no implication upon the hiring of a professor that they will work weekends. Unless the students you speak of are also professors, you can’t just bring in an irrelevant argument and expect others not to argue back. It’s like saying that if I told my research advisor that I couldn’t work at 8:30 on Mondays, and he told me to work at 8:30 on Mondays anyway, and you told me that I can’t contest that because other people work at 8:30 on Mondays. Yet the people who work at 8:30 on Mondays don’t have class at that time, so it’s a completely different scenario.

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      2. I can’t reply to all this paraphrasing and twisting of what I said- on top of all the nit-picking it’s exhausting. try reading the thread again.

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  16. We have won!!! The university has recognized that it mishandled things and went against our principles of shared governance and academic freedom, has retracted its decision and has issued an apology to the faculty members.

    This is why fighting for your rights is important. And IT WORKS.

    Like

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