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Can My Employer Force Me to Attend a Work Function?

Work functions: even if attendance is not mandatory, employees often feel compelled to attend.

Under most circumstances employers are permitted to require their employees attend a work function (even if it is outside normal business hours), because most states are at-will employment states. This means that an employee can be terminated or quit for any reason or no reason, as along as the employee is not part of a protected class, and the reason for termination is not unlawful discrimination. In at-will employment states, employees can be legally fired for not attending a mandatory work function that occurs outside normal business hours (even if that event occurs far away from their place of employment). Typical functions include holiday parties, meetings, weekend or evening retreats, and social or charity events. Sometimes these events are explicitly mandatory and sometimes there is strong peer pressure associated with attending— which makes them essentially mandatory events.