I am a full time salaried software developer. I need more money though since I have a baby coming and I want to work as a valet two nights a week. Is it possible for my employer to fire me or disallow me to do this? Someone said that maybe they could, but I feel like if they do this, I can take them to court because basically their message is "You cant improve your life".
Taking work on the side while holding down a full time job is referred to as "moonlighting." Moonlighting is legal in the US, but employers can prohibit it as a term of employment in an employment agreement or employee policy. Or they may not prohibit it but require you to disclose it/ask permission. Massachusetts is an at will employment state, so basically "they can fire you if they don't like anything about what you're doing" whether it's in the employment agreement or not, and the employment agreement can basically require anything that's not illegal itself as a condition of employment.
Keep in mind that even if moonlighting is not prohibited per se by your company it could still become a (fireable) problem in other ways:
- If your primary job performance suffers
- If it's for a competitor and falls afoul of a noncompete clause
- If you are violating any IP ownership/confidentiality agreements - you can't use your work laptop to do moonlighting work, can't use code you wrote for them, reuse information gained from your employment, solicit their customer lists, etc.
Here's a link to a good blog post that covers these issues and more that can arise with moonlighting (bonus: written by a law firm with offices in Mass.).
Moonlighting is usually OK especially if as in your case it is unrelated to your work. Some companies specifically prohibit it as part of the contract so check your contract first.
The main thing is that it does not interfere in any way with your normal work, and that your work is prioritised if there is any conflict. I have held up to three jobs simultaneously. Technician/ bouncer/ cleaner, and people I worked with had no idea mostly because there was zero overlap in terms of getting the jobs done. When eventually there was I cut one of the part time jobs.