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Forced Use of Trains in Mass Massachusetts

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  • Forced Use of Trains in Mass Massachusetts

    I work for a prominent employer in Cambridge, MA. I drive in and park where I am required to move my car every two hours. every garage nearby is permit parking only.
    I've now been basically given an ultimatum to stop driving and take the train or seek employment elsewhere because 1 manager in particular doesn't like the fact that I must leave work for 5 to 6 minutes every two hours. I never take any breaks either.
    I have found no specific laws about this but it seems like it couldn't possibly be legal to fire someone for driving to work even if they have the ability to take the train.

    Any help would be greatly apprecieated.

  • #2
    I wouldn't fire you for driving to work. I really don't care if you walk, ride a bike, or parachute in.

    But I am not letting you out of the office every two hours to move your car.

    Your choices are:

    1. Get ticketed for overtime parking
    2. Buy permits for a garage
    3. Find an alternative way of getting to work.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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    • #3
      Exactly, ScottB. You aren't being "required" to drive or be fired. You're being "required" to work your expected time without running outside every 2 hours to move your car; your employer isn't paying you to do that.
      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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      • #4
        Well, I got in the first word, for once, Patty.
        Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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        • #5
          And, speaking as a Massachusetts employer who has worked in Cambridge, I agree absolutely. You are not being fired for not taking the train; you are being fired for leaving the office every two hours. And that is 100% legal. I'd fire you too. You can get to work any way you want; I honestly don't care. But leaving the office to move your car every two hours goes FAR beyond what the employer has to permit.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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          • #6
            I will agree with all others. In addition, as someone who works in Boston and is fairly familiar with Cambridge I will openly question your contention that all the nearby garages are "permit parking" ...

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            • #7
              Reply

              well, I guess I should have made it more clear that I wanted to know whether or not this is actually legal and not whether or not its morally acceptable to the masses. But thanks for the obviously unbiased opinions.

              Anyone out there running across any actual laws or cases about this, I'd appreciate the help.

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              • #8
                reply

                Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
                Exactly, ScottB. You aren't being "required" to drive or be fired. You're being "required" to work your expected time without running outside every 2 hours to move your car; your employer isn't paying you to do that.

                however this is a good point.

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                • #9
                  reply

                  Originally posted by rjc View Post
                  I will agree with all others. In addition, as someone who works in Boston and is fairly familiar with Cambridge I will openly question your contention that all the nearby garages are "permit parking" ...
                  As for this, all I can say is that every garage in a 1 mile radius is permit only. I know, I've checked and my employer has checked. One could park farther away and then bus it, I suppose.

                  I understand all the comments being made and for the most part I agree but that doesn't answer my initial question on its legallity except for the aurgument that an employer would make (not being paid to feed the meter). I just wondered if there was an actual physical law on the books.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cbg View Post
                    And, speaking as a Massachusetts employer who has worked in Cambridge, I agree absolutely. You are not being fired for not taking the train; you are being fired for leaving the office every two hours. And that is 100% legal. I'd fire you too. You can get to work any way you want; I honestly don't care. But leaving the office to move your car every two hours goes FAR beyond what the employer has to permit.
                    So unless negotiated at hiring, you're on your own and the employer can approach this subject however they would like. Maybe its just been my previous experiences that have spoiled me.

                    Okay, I've got it.

                    Thanks.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by terrymc View Post
                      I wanted to know whether or not this is actually legal and not whether or not its morally acceptable to the masses.
                      Can your employer REQUIRE you to use a specific mode of transportation? There are no laws against it and I know of no case law concernining that.

                      I thought, though, that I (and the other unbiased opinions -- and they are that) made it clear it is not an issue of your employer requiring you to use the train, although that is what you think the case is. How you get to work is not an issue for your employer. That is precisely why we dropped the question "Do you own a car?" from the employment applications many, many years ago. You want the job? Fine. Be there, on time and stay there. How you get there is not my concern.
                      Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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                      • #12
                        So....

                        something that maybe only I find relative to this discussion is that there are four people in the office that go outside for 5 minutes every hour for a smoke break. Is there a law that says that's okay? No one is telling them that they're not being paid to smoke and they need to stop going out every hour or seek alternative employment. Or is that more of a social issue that is too taboo to be approached?

                        I've worked with smokers before who smoked only at lunch and break time. Certainly not every hour.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ScottB View Post
                          Can your employer REQUIRE you to use a specific mode of transportation? There are no laws against it and I know of no case law concernining that.

                          I thought, though, that I (and the other unbiased opinions -- and they are that) made it clear it is not an issue of your employer requiring you to use the train, although that is what you think the case is. How you get to work is not an issue for your employer. That is precisely why we dropped the question "Do you own a car?" from the employment applications many, many years ago. You want the job? Fine. Be there, on time and stay there. How you get there is not my concern.
                          You're right, you did. I now see it in a different light. I wouldn't have approached it that way without someone else pointing it out.

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                          • #14
                            You are saying that you are being forced to stop taking breaks every two hours that take six minutes each while smokers get five minute breaks every hour to indulge their habit.

                            Assuming all the timing is correct, this is not fair and not illegal.

                            The reason I mention the timing is that I find it difficult to believe that you can leave the office, get to your car, drive around, find a new parking space and get back in the office in five or six minutes every single time. We had problems like this years ago, until our office relocated and even in tiny Bangor, Maine, you would be lucky to be so quick finding a parking space.

                            If you can relocate your car in such short order and this is not taking as much time as what smokers take to address their nicotine fits, you could look for other explanations of why the employer has it in for you other than driving a car.
                            Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks!

                              Originally posted by ScottB View Post
                              You are saying that you are being forced to stop taking breaks every two hours that take six minutes each while smokers get five minute breaks every hour to indulge their habit.

                              Assuming all the timing is correct, this is not fair and not illegal.

                              The reason I mention the timing is that I find it difficult to believe that you can leave the office, get to your car, drive around, find a new parking space and get back in the office in five or six minutes every single time. We had problems like this years ago, until our office relocated and even in tiny Bangor, Maine, you would be lucky to be so quick finding a parking space.

                              If you can relocate your car in such short order and this is not taking as much time as what smokers take to address their nicotine fits, you could look for other explanations of why the employer has it in for you other than driving a car.
                              My boss lives in Cambridge and has mentioned the many things they do in relation to traffic congestion in "his town". Til now, I thought he was just making small talk. But maybe it was a hint...

                              I am being honest and not trying to get anyone to take my side. For whatever reason, and its beyond me, there's a stretch of road very close to us where many people park and switch their spaces every couple of hours. You can always find someone moving when you need to. When all this started I actually began timing myself to see and it usually takes me five but no more that 6 minutes to get there, move, and get back. And, I was being frugal about the smokers. Sometimes its less than an hour between smokes and sometimes its longer than five minutes. Wow, this all sounds like I'm getting a complex. I guess I just need to learn to live with it and stop whining or blow a gasket.
                              Thanks for all your help. I've got a better understanding.

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