“Can an employer require that you state your intentions about whether you will stay with the company?”

Question: Alan, is it legal for your boss / employer to require that you state your intentions as far as your future employment goals with the organization? Is an employee required to swear allegiance to the company, or can the employee keep his / her plans silent?

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Answer: Mark, your question is one of those that is not at all easy to answer.

I know of no law anywhere that says it is “legal,” or that says that it is “illegal,” for an employer to make you share your long-term employment goals. So, I can’t say “It’s legal” or “It’s illegal.”

What I can say are these things:

1. No one can force you to be honest about your intentions; only you know – if even you know – what your true intentions may be.

2. If you do not have an employment contract – and very few people do – then your employer can fire you for any reason that is not illegal. I believe that if an employer fired you for refusing to “share” your intentions regarding “staying” or “leaving” the company, you would have no good way to sue them for it.

3. Even if you tell your employer that it is your intention to remain with the company, and then you leave, there is no way I know of that your employer could sue you for leaving, or stop you from leaving.

So, there are many things that are neither “legal” nor “illegal” and this is one of them. More importantly, I don’t think you could sue them if they insisted, and I don’t think they could sue you, if you resisted. 

Hope that makes sense, and that it’s helpful, too. Thanks for writing in. 

Best, Al Sklover

Late Summer /  Early Fall. Send a “Bonus Expectations Memo” to Your Boss. It can be very helpful. To obtain a Model, [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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