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Employer Ordered Friend to Have Car Fixed

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  • Employer Ordered Friend to Have Car Fixed

    Just had a question about this weird situation that came up recently.

    My friend drives a car which has a broken door handle, and she just started working in a new job. Her manager told her to get the car door fixed and referred her to a repairman near their office. After talking with her husband, he was uncomfortable with the idea and so she refused. However, her manager still insisted on her getting her car fixed (and paying the $80 or so herself) even though both she and her husband were against it and it has nothing to do with her work responsibilities.

    The manager had also asked that my friend purchase a prepaid cell phone until the company provides her with one, and she did so, since having a cell phone is necessary to do her job, but the car issue is a completely private matter. (And would be a significant cost to my friend.)

    I know this behavior is at least inappropriate and unethical -- the manager seems to have no sense of boundaries between work-related issues and personal issues -- but are there any specific laws in Texas which govern such abuses of authority? Also any suggested courses of action if this continues? It's possible that he is merely unaware of expectations in the employer-employee relationship in America, since he is from overseas and doesn't seem to be too familiar with Western culture.

  • #2
    No, there are no laws in Texas (or any other state) which prohibits the employer from making this kind of request, and in 49 out of 50 states, including Texas, she could legally be fired for refusing. (Based on what you've said, it's possible that she could legally be fired for refusing in the 50th state too, but that is not certain.)

    I"m not saying she will be fired; I'm saying she could be fired, just to make the point that this is not a question addressed by law.
    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      While this situation appears odd, it does not at all appear unlawful. If the manager insists on paying for the repair to your friend’s car, then why not let her pay for the repair? If the situation devolves down the road (e.g., an untoward “tit for tat” situation), then your friend can explore whether she has a legal option or options to pursue.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ESteele View Post
        While this situation appears odd, it does not at all appear unlawful. If the manager insists on paying for the repair to your friend’s car, then why not let her pay for the repair? If the situation devolves down the road (e.g., an untoward “tit for tat” situation), then your friend can explore whether she has a legal option or options to pursue.
        I'm not sure the mgr. is willing to pay for fixing the car. When the OP says "her manager still insisted on her getting her car fixed (and paying the $80 or so herself) even though both she and her husband were against it and it has nothing to do with her work responsibilities.", I think the OP means by herself - the friend (not mgr.).
        The OP further states "but the car issue is a completely private matter. (And would be a significant cost to my friend.)"

        It seems the friend needs to pay - not mgr. paying just to clarify.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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        • #5
          Unless you use your car for business purposes (going to client companies, picking up clients, etc.), I'm at a loss to understand why your friend's manager cares about a broken door handle. That said however, there are no laws that make it illegal for the boss to insist she get her car repaired.

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          • #6
            Betty, your interpretation appears correct. After I initially read the post, I thought the boss insisted on the friend having the car repaired and the boss agreed to pick up the tab.

            Nonetheless, as the other responders have pointed out, if the friend is an “at will” employee her boss can make odd or even objectively unreasonable demands (as long as said demands do not contravene an applicable law or contract).

            Comment


            • #7
              Depending on the area of Houston she works in, the employer could be concerned about her safety on the property. I suspect it takes longer to get in/out of the car if the handle is broken? Although I am curious how the manager knows the handle was broken in the first place!

              I would also be curious as to what her job responsibilities are. I know many real estate brokers require their agents to drive specific types of cars, etc. If she is driving on company business, that might also be a reason the employer is involved.

              But I agree with the others. There is nothing illegal in this requirement.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree nothing illegal in the request/requirement based on what was posted. I was just clarifying the info re who has to pay to have the car fixed.
                Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ESteele View Post
                  Betty, your interpretation appears correct. After I initially read the post, I thought the boss insisted on the friend having the car repaired and the boss agreed to pick up the tab.

                  Nonetheless, as the other responders have pointed out, if the friend is an “at will” employee her boss can make odd or even objectively unreasonable demands (as long as said demands do not contravene an applicable law or contract).

                  Yes, that's right. The manager never offered to pick up the tab, my friend would have to pay out of pocket for the door handle. And she only uses the car to get to and from work, not to conduct any official business. But the fact that an employer can make unreasonable requests dealing with employee's private property is surprising to me. If that's the case, does that mean there's nothing to stop an employer from requiring an employee to, say, buy a Ferrari and when they don't, terminate them?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Under Employment at Will, yes, the employer could terminate someone for not buying a Ferrari. And, the employee could also quit because they didnt like something the employer asked them to do.
                    However, a company that puts unreasonable expectations on its employees will soon find itself without any employees.
                    Has your friend asked the employer why he wants the door handle fixed?
                    I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                    Thomas Jefferson

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                    • #11
                      Maybe the mgr. knows the repairman of the repair shop near the office & is trying to get him business.
                      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, the manager is evidently on friendly terms with repairman, because according to my friend, he was saying, "I know this guy in the neighborhood who can get that fixed."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The problem is it is still not illegal though for the mgr. to require that your friend get the door handle fixed.
                          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                          Comment

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