Just because you’re off the clock over the holidays, doesn’t mean your boss can’t ask where you’re off to. Employees may face questions about their travel plans, and labor law experts say, for the most part, companies have a lot of leeway about what they can ask about and enforce
Making travel to virus hotspots off limits, requiring quarantine upon return and recommending a testing protocol could all be allowable according to Dallas attorney Rogge Dunn.
“If they have a policy and they say nobody’s allowed to travel on a plane, and you violate that policy, they could fire you,” he said.
Dunn explained employer influence over actions outside of work is nothing new. Everything from publicized incidents of bad behavior to use of tobacco products could be grounds for discipline.
Control over travel is in that same vein he said as businesses aim to protect their workforce and keep their doors open.
“In the absence of some state law protecting employees’ individual personal rights, outside the workplace, an employer pretty much has free reign to control what you do,” he said.
If businesses are concerned with employees traveling this year, they should have a clear written policy on it, he said, that’s communicated with everyone. It also has to be applied consistently. One person’s plans to travel to a neighboring state couldn’t be questioned, while a colleague has theirs approved.
If there is any grey area on how far a company could go, Dunn said a judge or jury would be likely to cut the company some slack over the employee, given the current pandemic.