“Does federal law give me a right to send out resumes while working for my employer?”

Question: Is there a federal law that states that you have a right to send out resumes to potential jobs even if you are currently employed somewhere else?

Karen
Bluffton, South Carolina

Answer: No, I don’t think there is any federal law – or any state law, for that matter – that says that you have a right to send out resumes while you are employed. At the same time, I don’t think that any law exists that says you cannot do that. The law is silent on the issue.

As the “law” is silent about this, it is entirely legal for an employer to say it will fire you if you look for a job elsewhere, or if you interview elsewhere. That’s because, unless you have a written employment contract that says you have a right to a continued job, your relation with your employer is what is called “at will.” With an “at will” employment relation, either you or your employer can end the relation for any reason that does not violate the law. As noted above, an employer would be “within” the law to fire you for that reason.

Sound unfair? Perhaps. But you have the same right as the employer, that is, to end the relation for any reason that is not “illegal.”

Still sound unfair? If so, you are in good company. Many people think that the way these things work in Europe – where employment is considered an important relation, worthy of legal protections – is the way things should work here. Perhaps one day, but not yet.

This is probably not the “good news” you were hoping to get, but it’s the way things are. Hope it helps, in any case.

Best, Al Sklover

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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.