can an employer stop you from shopping at a competitor

My wife works at a daycare which has as part of her employment agreement that she’s not allowed to use another daycare for our children calling it a conflict of interest. I’ve worked at companies which discourage such but never where it is forbidden to use a competitor’s products or services. Can they do this or does it violate some law or rule. Particularly the idea that her employment agreement forbids me who didn’t sign anything from dropping off my kids somewhere else.

An example of a nudge to buy what you build.

That’s insane. Choosing a daycare is usually based on convenient proximity and hours of operation you’re not designing rocket motors or CPUs. Telling her that using another daycare is “a conflict of interest” is cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

I could see an employer saying you can’t work at two competing daycares at once but placing your kids is entirely a personal choice. It’s like telling a Chipotle worker that have to buy all their take out food there.

Does her daycare give a significant discount for her? I can see why they would want her to use their day care, but they need to give an incentive.
When I worked for the Bell System we got no discount on anything. When long distance became competitive, they discovered that some employees were going with the much cheaper MCI. So, we finally got a steep discount on long distance. Company loyalty is easier with some money on the table.

I read the title as “can an employer stop you from shooting at a competitor?”

And I swear the Rx on my reading glasses is up to spec.

There’s also a very reasonable reason why a parent might want to put their kids in a different centre. Some kids can get very distressed knowing their parent is in the building but not with them; a staff member at my daycare often was seen by her kid and he got very upset - she debated whether working there with him was actually worth the stress.

I was going to ask a sort of related question (about whether an employer can lay claim to intellectual property that an employee creates in their own time and has absolutely no connection to their work).

I think both questions can be summed up as: is there such a thing as a definition of ‘unfair contract terms’ in employment law? - outside of the realm of health, safety and fundamental human rights, that is (I’m assuming those bases are covered).

Can they stop you? No.

Can you be fired at will? Probably.

Sounds like a shitty employer. Just start looking for a new job now.

If they fire you for your choice of daycare you’ll almost certainly be able to collect unemployment

They can certainly put such a term in your employment agreement. Whether or not it can be enforced is another issue and not an easy question to answer. The question that would be raised are ones of “reasonableness”.

If the OP’s wife’s employers has such a term, but also provides childcare for his children at steeply discounted rates, then yes it probably would be construed as reasonable. Someone who works for a car manufacturer, could reasonably be required to only use that Company’s car.

Whether or not it is reasonable in the circumstance depends and you need advice from a lawyer who practices in your jurisdiction.

Are you missing a “not” in that 2nd sentence? Someone working at minimum wage sweeping floors in a Cadillac factory could not “reasonably” be required to only buy a Cadillac.

Brokerage firms don’t want you making trades at other brokerage firms. There’s a good reason for that: you ight be trading on insider information, and they’d be the ones getting in trouble if you are.

While it’s not expressly forbidden, they do not charge their employees a fee when they buy or sell stock. I think there are requirements that you disclose any trades made outside the brokerage. The SEC will back them up on that if challenged.

Anything legal you do on your own time is none of your employer’s business. But they can always find a reason to fire you.

When my father worked for GM he was told to get rid of his Ford. If he wanted to drive a Ford then he should go work for them.
The reason being, how would it look if somebody driving past the GM plant saw all Fords in the employee parking lot?

That said, he got a huge (13 - 33% discount) on GM vehicles. Also, he could drive a competitor’s car, he just couldn’t park it in the employee lot.

I don’t know if I pointed it out in the comments, but that’s not universal. I work for a different car company, and only facilities with majority UAW representation seem to have that rule. the engineering and other facilities don’t.

Employers can fire people for almost no reason. That may seem unfair, but the benefit is that the easier it is to fire employees, the more likely a company is to hire employees. In countries with lots of employee rights, companies are slow to hire since they know it’s so hard to get rid of problem employees.

In any case, this stipulation by the daycare could be seen as reasonable. If the employees don’t use their own daycare company, it brings up questions about their level of care. Employees have inside knowledge, and if they take their kids somewhere else, it may mean there’s a problem and they don’t feel comfortable leaving their kids there.

I’m not sure if she could collect unemployment in this case if she was fired. If she signed the agreement and the daycare could successfully argue that it hurt their brand image to have their employees use other daycare facilities, the judge might agree. If this was an unwritten policy then she would probably get unemployment. But here she clearly knows the policy and would willingly be going against it, and would also be aware of the consequences.

Daycare I can’t speak to but I know a major on-line vendor (name begins with A) who penalized a co-worker after a fashion for shopping at Walmart and talking about it on the production floor. She got demoted and “loyalty to and pride in the company” was cited as one of the reasons in the interview when she was bucked out of leadership.

Which is why I said “reasonable”. No one expects worker’s buying power to be equal to that of an Executive. And Cadilac is owned by GM; they can easily make it a term to buy only GM owned Brand.

At the financial institution where I work, it is absolutely forbidden to make trades anywhere other than our institution or one other that is expressly approved. We must also report all of our accounts, and have some very strict restrictions on trading. Violating any of these rules is cause for termination.

The OP’s issue brings to mind a question about children not in the daycare worker’s custody. If you were the custodial parent and placed your children in common in a different daycare (closer to where you work or live, for instance), would she still be subject to termination?

In the US outside of Montana, an employer can fire you for any reason other than being in a protected class, or certain specific exceptions (like using FMLA time). Firing you for using a competitor’s daycare service doesn’t hit any state’s specific restrictions that I know of. So yes, they can tell you that you’ll be fired if you use a competitor.

Whether it can be enforced is a trivial ‘yes’ in most of the US, because in 49 states you’re an at-will employee, so being fired for any reason that is not specifically prohibited is fine. What do you mean by ‘the question that would be raised’, exactly? The firing process is that someone from the company (usually your manager) says ‘you don’t work here any more’, and maybe has some paperwork to fill out. There isn’t a referee that they have to get an OK from for it to happen, they just do it. You can try suing them, but you’re not going to come up with an example of someone successfully suing for that in a case remotely like this in the US.