Skip to main content

Can a California employer call an employee at 6:00pm an require that the employee come to work immediately or face termination?

Thousand Oaks, CA |

My employer often calls me and other employees and requires that we come to work immediately or with little notice while stating that refusal will make us subject to discipline up to and including possible termination of employment. They refer to the practice as "forcing" as if it is a legitimate scheduling practice however I have not seem mention of this practice in our policies. We do not receive payment for being "on call" or prepared for immediate scheduling. Is this legal?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


It's legal, unless you are covered under a collective bargaining agreement through a union that places on-call restrictions on your employer. Employers who behave in this way tend to lose a lot of employees, and the costs of employee attrition can really add up. Otherwise, employers have very broad discretion to manage their work forces.

My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.


It is legal. As an at will employee, you can refuse to come in, but you can be disciplined or terminated for doing so. Your real option is to find other employment and call the employer an hour before your shift and quit, and face no legal consequences for doing so.

Please understand that I say that with some tongue in cheek. While you have such a right as an at will employee, you do not want to risk burning a bridge when you move on.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


Sounds like a miserable employer to be working for. Unfortunately, however, employers retain tremendous discretion with regard to how they can manage their employees and there is no law prohibiting discipline or termination if an employee does not come in to work on short notice. An employee in this circumstance would not be entitled to compensation for on call time, either, since their off duty time is not so restricted they cannot engage in personal activities.

Sounds like you would benefit greatly by searching for alternative employment where the demands are more reasonable and your work/life balance actually respected.

This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.