I work for a tow company where we have set schedules.

Previously, another employee has made threats about cutting my brake-lines or poisoning me and my dogs. Management was made aware of the problem they told me it was over with and that she would be talked to about it.

Now it's a few months later. She has asked for time off, and the company asked me to cover. I told them I don't want to, and that there are other people that can cover her shift. Now a week before she is to be off they tell me that I have to cover it. I told them I don't want to because of all the threats, that it would make me work 13 days in a row without a day off, and that it would have me at work until 11pm then back in the next day to work a 15 hour shift.

Can they make me cover?

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    Your problems with her are your problems with her, not with the company. If the company needs you to cover because someone is unavailable, the question of who it is doesn't seem relevant. I understand your feelings, but if someone is entitled to time off someone else has to fill in, and the fact that it's her doesn't change that. The question of hours and safety is the only vaild issue here... and whether they can "make you" work those hours depends on your employment contract and whether they would react to your refusing by firing you. – keshlam Jul 9 '14 at 3:44
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    Your post is unreadable. Clean up your punctuation. In the meantime, I am voting to close your question as unclear. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 9 '14 at 3:48
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    Have there been any problems with threats since management told you that the issue was over? If not, then what relevance do the threats have now that several months have passed? If the issue has been resolved, you can't turn around and use it as a reason to not work. Depending upon your location, however, the amount of days/hours they are requesting that you work may not be allowed. – aroth Jul 9 '14 at 4:39
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    Does "tow company" mean you are driving? There are probably maximum hours that you are allowed to drive as well. – gnasher729 Jul 9 '14 at 6:49
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    @keshlam Make that an answer ;-) – user8036 Jul 9 '14 at 8:31

There is no way we can answer your question. Consult a local lawyer.

However, please note that if you field her previous behaviour as a reason you don't want to cover for her, it may not be in your best interests. You are not doing her a favor. She doesn't gain anything from it. You would be doing your company a favor. It's your company that needs someone to cover for her.

It's understandable that after what happened you don't want to work with her. However, working her job if she is absent is something different and has nothing to do with her behaviour.

If you don't want to work those shifts because they are too long, say so and ask a lawyer if you can get around it. Do not mention her name because that would look like an excuse.


Yeah, they probably can make you cover this mean person's shifts. They can ask you to cover anybody's shifts. It isn't about your problems with the mean person, it's about serving your customers.

But they do (in the US) have to pay you time and a half, at least, for overtime hours.

You could make the case that you've been working too long without a day off and you need a break. It sounds like you have a good case there.

Or you could just take the overtime pay to the bank. What the heck, milk it! It's not like you have to ride around in the truck with the mean person.


There have been lawsuits in the field of towing. Some tow companies incorrectly classify employees as independent contractors when in fact they are treating them as employees. As an employee, you are covered by FLSA, so you should be paid overtime for extra hours. Having to pay overtime might make them find a different solution to their need to cover shifts, so if you are not paid overtime, you should consult an attorney.

Unfortunately, neither FLSA nor OSHA set limits to how much you can be asked or expected to work. If your employer is paying you legally and operating within the law, they can ask and expect whatever hours they need.

This is extremely poor management on the part of your company, however. They did not handle the threats well, and the amount of work they are expecting is unhealthy. You should probably look for a better employer. Sorry.

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