Moonlighting refers to an employee who works a second job on the side, usually after hours. California law generally protects the rights of workers to moonlight. Under California Labor Code section 96, employers are essentially prohibited from punishing employees who engage in moonlighting in their free time.
There are some exceptions to the moonlighting protections that California Labor Code section 96 provides. For example, when an employee is engaging in the following:
Unless you have an employment contract that limits your employer’s right to fire you, you are an at-will employee. At-will employees can be fired at any time as long as it is for a legal reason. For example, when an employee juggles multiple jobs, they may perform mediocre work at all their jobs instead of excellent work at their primary day job. If that happens, primary employers are within their legal rights to terminate employees if moonlighting is hurting performance, dependability, and attentiveness. However, employers cannot take action against employees for their legal off-duty conduct.
Unless you have signed a valid employment contract that prohibits you from taking a second job, you do not have to tell your employer about it, provided that the policy doesn’t require disclosure and/or approval. However, it is always best, to be honest with an employer.
Moonlighting jobs are ideally low-stress and/or flexible that work with your existing schedule. For example
Subsection (k) of California Labor Code section 96 allows “Claims for loss of wages as the result of demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” This has been interpreted to encompass demotions and firings of employees due to lawful moonlighting that employers do on their own time.
As a result, if you believe you were unfairly terminated for moonlighting, speak to an experienced Orange County wrongful termination lawyer. You may have the legal grounds to file a lawsuit.