If a company hires someone for full-time employment, it’s natural to want that person’s undivided attention. So it seems only reasonable that an employer can tell someone: “Hey, if we’re paying you for full-time work, you can’t work for anyone else.” Right?

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Wrong. Labor Code §96(k) authorizes the Labor Commissioner to pursue “claims for loss of wages as the result of demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” That’s why outright bans on moonlighting are a problem in California.

Here’s what employers CAN do:

  • They can prohibit employees from creating conflicts of interest. So they don’t need to tolerate employees working for competitors, contractors, clients, vendors, and the like.
  • A moonlighting employee can be held to the same standards regarding performance, attendance, and productivity as other employees. If they’re coming to work late, not getting their work done, or not working up to company standards, the employer is free to address those issues.
  • Howl at tonight’s full moon and lament the fact that California makes things so hard for employers.