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Is an Employer’s Residency Rule Legal?

There are many things your employer can ask of you, but is living in a certain location one of them?


There are instances in which an employer can base hiring and firing decisions on where an employee lives, with a few exceptions.

Employers view employees with a long commute as risky, with good reason. If you have to drive or take publication transportation for several hours a day to arrive at and return from your job, you are more likely to be unhappy with the situation. And if you are unwilling to move closer to your employer’s location, chances are you will look for a job closer to home. Employers know this and if they are choosing between two applicants that are otherwise perfectly matched, there is a chance they could choose the one closer in distance.

It is also possible that someone working for a government entity could require employees to live within a city or county. They want employees to be part of the community, and in some cases, want them closer to work in case of emergency. In most cases, government employee residency requirements are addressed in union contracts, but at the very least should be written in stone when you are hired. Just make sure you get clarification in advance of accepting a government job.

The simple fact is unless an employer’s reason for not hiring you or for dismissing you does not fall into a protected category, they are free to do whatever they choose at their discretion. Employment at will allows you to leave when you choose and your employer to let you go or not hire you as they choose.

Are you considering a job with a long commute from home or are you in the process of relocating and hoping to keep your current job? Consider the following:

Is being active in the community in which your employer is located a job requirement?
Living outside of a community in which you are expected to participate socially can be a challenge. Especially when those expectations include early Saturday morning golf outings or Sunday afternoon employee charity events.

Will a long commute affect your work?
This varies from person to person, but if you believe you will be showing up late for work because of the distance you must travel, you can expect it to cause a problem in the future.

Are you on-call?
If you are expected to arrive at work on a moment’s notice or you could be called from home to deal with an emergency in the community in which you work, living nearby is probably a good idea. Even if your employer doesn’t require it, you are going to find life a lot easier by doing so.

If you are concerned about a residency rule instituted by your employer or you believe your employer is breaking a law, we can help. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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