Legal Question: Job Description Binding?

A friend just had some additional duties added her plate, which she’d rather not have to deal with. She says she went to her bosses and they said she had no choice, even though it wasn’t written in her original job description. My question (and hers) is do employers have a right to force you to do things that are not in your written job description? Or can they pretty much have you do whatever they see fit?

What does she do and what are her new duties?

I’m not sure how that’s germaine, but she works in an insurance company call center, and they want her to start taking claims calls–currently she only handles customer inquiries regarding things like coverage and procedures, etc.

That should be irrelevant. the same bindingness (should) still apply.

IANAL but I’m thinking that if she bitches too loudly she’s gonna end up at the unemployment office.

I mean, really. It’s not like she’s being made to get coffee for the boss and run their errands. Claims calls. Big deal. Has her pay decreased? Is this a demotion?

Did she sign a contract? IIRC many employment contracts have a “we have the right to add stuff if necessary” clause. Aren’t most job descriptions just a “general idea” type of thing?

The standard used to be that at the end of the list of duties was:

Other duties as directed.

Realistically though I’ve been doing the “same” job for a few years now but the duties have changed greatly over the years. I’ve gained some new responsibilities and cast off some old ones.

What the hell…? Look, I asked a simple question of legality. If you don’t have an answer, I will kindly ask you to refrain from posting. No one says she’s bitching about it or upset about it. This is simply a matter of idle curiosity.

Unless she is in a union, I doubt very much that a job description is legally binding. That’s usually one of the things that unions try to negotiate in contract talks so by default that condition must not exist normally.

(timidly approaches Q.E.D., and gathers his courage)

The short answer IMHO, is yes, they can “make” her do whatever they want. If and when they reach an impasse, the company either fires her and she files a claim, or she quits and then files a claim. Maybe there’s the possibility of a compromise. If job descriptions were meant to be absolutely literal, they’d be novellas.

All of this I’m sure you know, I humbly submit that she can’t easily get her employer over a barrel without legal action. This is probably moot, since she is probably just annoyed by this turn of events, and doesn’t feel particularly litigious.

Granted this is in no way an answer, but if this were a <b>serious</b> question of rights, it would be best asked of her retained council.

IANAL, etc.

Something similar happened to me at a former job. I happened to be taking an employment law class at the time and asked my professor, an attorney licensed in Wisconsin, the same question. Her answer was (paraphrased) in a nutshell, no it’s not legal to radically change the duties of your position since you have a contract with your employer and this constitutes a breach of that contract, however, you live in an employment-at-will state which means your employer can terminate your employment contract for pretty much any reason so suck it up.

Your friend should ask for more money to go along with her increased responsibility.

Thank you, Otto, dnooman, et al. We expected as much, but needed our curiosity satisfied.