can after-hours event be required?

A reader writes:

Our company has a quarterly all-hands meeting that informs the employees of the financial status, what’s coming up, etc. There is a happy hour afterward at a different location than the meeting, usually at a local bar/restaurant. Can a manager require employees to attend an “after hours” function once a quarter?

Yes. Although if you’re non-exempt, you would need to be paid for the time.

Now, is it smart? Maybe not. If it inconveniences some employees (by requiring them to make special child-care arrangements, miss an evening class, etc.) or just annoys them, it’s probably smarter and more considerate to plan the event for during the regular work day. But this isn’t that unusual of a practice.