Question: Can a patrol squad sergeant institute a DUI arrest competition among the officers of his/her squad and then compel the “losing officer” to purchase dinner or breakfast for the squad because he/she came in with the fewest DUI arrests in a certain time frame? Some new officers are too timid to confront the sergeant in not wanting to participate or feel comfortable participating in such a competition. The “losing officer” who is a 20-year vet also did not want to participate, did not consider himself participating, yet was told by the sergeant to purchase either pizza or donuts for the squad. Is compelling a subordinate in such a scenario to purchase breakfast for his/her squad officers, including the sergeant, legal?
Answer: We see many potential problems with the sergeant’s approach. To begin with, an employer can’t simply unilaterally require an employee to purchase a meal for other employees. Secondly, what you’re describing sounds very much like production standards or quotas, which would clearly be negotiable topics under Washington law and the law in most states. Finally, we’re concerned as to whether the mandatory meal purchase might violate an employer’s code of conduct. In sum, this is not a good idea.
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