I'm currently working my first part time job that is paid by the hour where I teach young children. I really love being able to interact with the students and seeing them grow as I teach them. Lately, the owner of the company has decided to take a more direct interest in the direct management of employees (which is his right), but has implemented certain policy changes.
I'm very concerned about how my employer is defining work place events and whether they qualify as paid work time. I'm adding a slightly edited version of our correspondence (for privacy reasons). The edits are bolded.
I feel like he is indicating that I could be fired if I don't attend a non-mandatory event. Am I overreacting? What would be an appropriate course of action? (If it helps, this is in California.)
Events are not working events. They are for the students. This is the fruit of what we do. Events are not a paid event. If it were we would staff more discriminately. I can not make attendance mandatory; however, I will look to replace instructors that don't show up for the events without a valid reason with instructors that are more passionate about the development of our students.
I attended the most recent event because it's sort of a big deal for the students. The drive is a bit difficult and as we help with set up, clean up, and running the event, it makes me feel that it is improper to indicate attendance is a sign of being uncommitted. In the future, I may not attend for reasons such as having too much homework or a prior engagement.
Edit: I feel like it wasn't quite clear in my original post. I'm essentially a minimum wage employee. We're being paid to teach the kids a skill set at our studio. This is also my first, first job and I fear that my boss may be using my inexperience and my coworkers inexperience to take advantage.