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Set firm moonlighting policy; punish violators equally

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

You have the right to prohibit employees from engaging in other gainful employment while at work. But can you (or should you) ban off-the-clock moonlighting? And when should you discipline employees for moonlighting?

The key is to set a clear policy that outlines what you consider acceptable outside employment. Specify in your policy whether employees can moonlight during leave. If you’re silent on the issue, employees may be able to moonlight while they’re out on FMLA leave.

Finally, make sure you apply your moonlighting rules uniformly. Otherwise, you run the risk of a discrimination lawsuit.

Recent case: The U.S. Postal Service demoted Denise Roland after her Mary Kay cosmetic business began taking up too much of her day. She sued for race discrimination.

Roland, a black supervisor, complained that the USPS gave preferential treatment to a white male employee by not punishing him for delivering his wife’s Avon orders along his mail route. She sued for race bias.

The Postal Service said it had a right to come down harder on Roland because her activities were more egregious. She solicited fellow employees to buy Mary Kay products and become sales reps, plus she tried to sell the cosmetics to postal patrons while on duty.

The 11th Circuit agreed. While everyone who violates the rules should receive equal treatment, these violations weren’t equal. The punishments could differ and weren’t proof of race discrimination. (Roland v. U.S. Postal Service, No. 06-12261, 11th Cir., 2006) 

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