my boss won’t let me move to another state — but I’m remote

A reader writes:

For eight years, I have been a fully remote employee. I am an outstanding employee, even winning Employee of the Year last year.

After a year of great loss, I felt the need for a change of scenery and told the entire executive team that I was going to California to see if I wanted to live there. They all encouraged me to do so and I worked remotely during my month-long test.

During meetings from the first week on, I told everyone how much I loved it and that I had even put a deposit on an apartment. No problem!

Until I returned and my boss told me that they looked into it and I can’t keep my job as a full-time employee and work from California. No such policy in the company existed; of course, one is being written as I write this. Further, when I mentioned being a consultant, I was told that I could do no more than a few hours a week.

While I know California presents its challenges for employers, something doesn’t feel right here. Also, I am of an age that is a protected class, but I have loved this company and I’m not a litigious person so I don’t want to invoke the law to make them let me do this. What do you think is going on?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Gracely*

    Oh man, as soon as I saw that they wanted to move to California, I knew exactly what was going to happen. OP, if you’re just looking for a change of scenery, you could maybe see if there’s another state that your company already has a nexus in that you’d want to move to. But they should’ve tried to explain it to you rather than you having to seek out Allison’s explanation (then again, it’s possible they don’t even understand themselves, and that it’s just that their lawyers or whatever said it would be less than feasible).

    1. bh*

      Yup yup. My first thought was SALT ramifications of a move to California would turn most employers who don’t already have a presence there off the notion.

      1. AJoftheInternet*

        My first thought is how in California you can’t be legally classed as a contractor unless you have two employer/clients minimum.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Yeah there are some states with reciprocity or where it might not matter, but California ain’t one. OP’s boss should have flagged this as soon as it came up TBH.

      1. Observer*

        I’m betting that OP’s boss didn’t realize. And they may also still not understand the issues.

        1. Hello Sweetie*

          Agreed. If as a manager you have never been in this situation, you might not know that the complications exist or have the vocabulary to proactively ask about it in the right way.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            SO true! We have a very senior manager who told me he’s thinking of moving to Portugal next year. I was like, OK, but you won’t be working for us. He had never thought about any of the logistics or ramifications of that. International payroll, for one….in a really tiny company.

        2. Lydia*

          OP’s boss may not have realized OP was going to put a deposit on an apartment based on “We’ll look into it.”

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, I think the letter writer’s best options are:

      – move to a different area of their current state (if that would be enough of a change of scenery)

      – find out which states the company already has a business nexus in and move to one of those for a change of scenery

      – start looking for a new job that’s located in California if the LW is really set on that state in particular

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Another option might be to ask their employer to hire them through a California-based staffing company. They would shift to being an employee of the staffing company, and would have a contractor relationship with their old employer. The challenge might be the additional costs that the old employer would face, so it’s probably only an option if the employee is critical to the business.

    4. StressedButOkay*

      Yes, this. SO’s company hired folks in CA without thinking things through and suddenly they were scrambling to provide sick and vacation, not PTO, plus a bunch of other things I’m assuming behind the scenes. They’d been in violation of CA state law for months before something made them straighten up.

      Unless CA is the place that you have to move to (family, etc), I’d talk it out with them and see what states are viable and see if any of those states gel with you personally. Unfortunately, you might find that they two simply don’t meet but they might.

    5. BatManDan*

      It seems reasonable that the LW’s employers didn’t anticipate that she’d put down a deposit on an apartment in California, when she had stated that she was only going as a “test.” They may have understood some/all/none of the ramifications of having an employee work in California, but all of them are irrelevant unless the LW returns to work and declares her intent to move. I can see the employer simply thinking, “we’ll think about this later, if we have to think about it at all.”

      1. ferrina*

        I also wonder who she was talking to during that early conversation. Most people at my company wouldn’t think about this- the only people that would are HR and Payroll (i.e., the people that deal directly with the business ramifications)

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Yup. It’s possible OP only spoke to the manager, who wasn’t really aware of the logistics and tax ramifications, and this is the result.

      2. Lulu*

        I also got the impression from the LW that she was talking to people generally about her activities, but didn’t have a sit-down conversation with her boss/HR to ask specifically if she would be allowed to make this move. If she chatted with people during a meeting and said “oh yeah, I’m visiting California as I may want to move here in the future,” they’re not going to respond in-the-moment with the legal ramifications if she were to do that. They might have engaged with it as general conversation, assumed she was thinking about leaving the company, or just not taken the issue up the chain because it wasn’t (or didn’t appear to be) a formal conversation or request.

      3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        I had a remote employees move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. In actual distance he literally only went about 20 miles. I wished him well in his new home. My boss wished him well, as did my bosses boss. None of the four of use knew that once he turned in his change of address to the company he would triggers a months long chain of events that nearly resulted in him being let go.

        Eventually the company decided that it made sense to allow remote workers from RI anyway, so they fast tracked getting the arrangements made and let him stay, but there was no guarantee.

    6. Magenta Sky*

      In survey after survey of business owners, the only state that is considered more hostile to business than California is New York. While I sympathize with the letter writer, I can’t blame the company for not wanting to deal with the crap.

      (I live in California. You cannot exaggerate who expensive and difficult it is to run a business here.)

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        But from the employee side, we have a lot more basic protections than other states. I don’t think I’d move away from California to a state that doesn’t have similar protections.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yes. A big return on the cost of living here is the state protections for labor in addition to climate and human rights. I value that a lot and am unlikely to leave them.

        2. ADidgeridooForYou*

          Yup. I work at a company that operates in many states including California, and when you look at all the benefits next to each other, California’s are so much better. Then you look at California’s vs. our Canadian teams, and the Canadian ones beat out ours. Sometimes “hostile towards businesses” is just code for “protective of employees.”

          1. Becky*

            Sometimes “hostile towards businesses” is just code for “protective of employees.”

            Ding, ding ding!

            1. Magenta Sky*

              It’s also code for “there are more jobs in other states.”

              If you’re fortunate enough to have a job in California, great. Otherwise, choices have to be made.

          2. L*

            Which is funny, because here in Canada we look at Europe and wish we had those worker protections instead. At least in Ontario! As someone that could be classed as an “information technology professional”, I’m not entitled to most of our workers rights. Including:
            – daily or weekly limits on hours of work
            – daily rest periods
            – time off between shifts
            – weekly/bi-weekly rest periods
            – eating periods
            – overtime pay

            It’s absurd. I’m glad I don’t live in the US, but even Canada needs to do so much better for its workers.

            1. TechWorker*

              If it’s any consolation, in some countries (maybe many, idk) employers can ask you to opt out of the European Working Time Directive. You can say no and legally you can’t be fired or have negative consequences for doing so – but equally I’m sure there are many companies where no-one says no in ‘professional’ roles.
              (We still are protected in terms of PTO and it’s not shift work so that one doesn’t really apply, but you’re otherwise expected to manage your own time/work and no-one is enforcing you get breaks or only work x hours a week, certainly no overtime payments :))

        3. Magenta Sky*

          You are correct, but as this letter demonstrates, it isn’t up to the employee what state they can live in for a particular job.

          There’s a reason California has such a high unemployment rate (and high homelessness rate, for that matter).

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Small but important distinction: It isn’t up to the employee what state they can WORK in for a particular job.

            1. Reluctant Manager*

              Employers have to withhold taxes based on employee residence, not just office location, in many cases.

          2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            Eh. Hawaii and Florida have high homeless rates too…sometimes it’s because it’s a lot easier to be homeless in a place with mild, hospitable weather. We seem to have a job boom in some parts of California right now…as long as you want to work in warehouses.

          3. Thomas Merton*

            California’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, vs. national at 3.7%. That is not a “high unemployment rate”.

            1. NACSACJACK*

              Agreed. My dad used to work for the state govt in employment services. A 4% unemployment rate was considered normal or average. We are experiencing extremely low unemployment rates, but how much of that reflects those who have given up looking or are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. How do we track the unknown.

          4. Lydia*

            Every state has seen an increase in homelessness. That’s because it has a lot to do with lack of affordable housing than lack of jobs. As pointed out, California’s unemployment rate is almost exactly the same as the US’s overall. so the “high unemployment rate and homelessness” narrative doesn’t really fit when those rates are similar across the country.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              To add to this point, the increasing homelessness rates are a direct cause of housing costs overtaking income due to decades of wage suppression and housing market shenanigans. Very relevant to labor rights.

              1. 1LFTW*

                Yes. Most houseless people have jobs, sometimes more than one. They go to work every day, and their paycheck is enough to allow them to couch surf with friends, or make car payments, which I guess technically counts as “having a roof over their heads”.

          5. Nelliebelle1197*

            Milder climates have higher rates of homelessness. And Ca’s unemployment rate is not high.

        4. Rain's Small Hands*

          I had the best of both worlds – a company that applied the same standards where at all possible to all employees – with a lot of California employees. So we got California employment law applied outside California – without California cost of living (those of us not in California got paid a little less).

      2. Phryne*

        Having more worker protection rights is only hostile to running a business if your business model is based on paying people as little as possible. Works for factories in China, for silicon valley not so much.

      3. Avril Ludgateaux*

        Maybe let’s not refer to labor-friendly states as “hostile to business.” Ew. Considering California props up most of our national economy, their businesses are doing fine.

    7. Michelle Smith*

      Yep. I saw California and was like ooooh, start looking for a new role or figure out how to back out of that lease immediately. Every state is different but Cali has so many more laws.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh yeah. If that employee were in my company, they’d get a huge Nopeity Nope Nope, but at least it would be upfront.
      It sounds like her managers had no idea what they were dealing with and once HR etc got wind of it they put the kibash on it.
      I’m sorry OP, but it’s a company that presumably needs to be fiscally responsible and getting nexus in CA just because you want to live there is financially punitive for a company. The employer taxes are way higher, plus they’ll now have to pay sales tax.
      As an aside, you may want to look at how much state tax will be withheld from your paycheck as well. I know a lot of folks who looked into moving there and backed out once they realized what a hit they were going to take.

    9. jojo*

      Working more than 10 days in a row in California means you have to file California non resident tax . She was there for a month.

  2. The Omega Variant*

    the Inc. version of this article is a thoughtful recap of posts that Alison has already covered in AAM. Good info for those who haven’t heard about the issues yet.

  3. ZSD*

    I don’t believe the answer responded to the “protected class” piece at the end of this question. The fact that the writer is over 40 is irrelevant to the policy of not living in another state, right? So they wouldn’t have a legal case anyway. I think this is worth mentioning.

    1. Britchikaa*

      Yeah “I’m old therefore I could sue you” is a huge red flag, and honestly pretty offensive. It’s very obvious the LW’s age has absolutely no bearing on not being allowed to work from out of state.

      1. Lol*

        Yeah, that also stood out to me, particularly because LW mentioned that the age was the discriminatory part rather than anything else that would make them a protected class. Pretty sure being over forty does not trump the company’s inability to support your move to California on a whim.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            That seems unwarranted. They had a ‘year of great loss’–that sounds like a parent, maybe a spouse/partner, or even a child. Wanting to start somewhere fresh does not a mid-life crisis make.

      2. Lulu*

        I read it as a misunderstanding of what a “protected class” is. It’s not protection from ever having limits placed on you. It’s being protected from discrimination *based on that specific characteristic*. Being over 40 doesn’t make you protected from a geographic limit on work. It protects you from being fired/harassed/retaliated against, etc. *because* you’re over 40.

        1. Ama*

          But you should note that the law also tries to address situations that might fall under “plausible deniability” by working off of “disparate impact”. E.g. if an employee under 40 got to work in California and they were denying it to OP, it doesn’t have to be proven that they denied OP because they were over 40. It just has to be proven that the policy is being applied differently to different people, and that people belonging to a protected class are more affected than the general population of the company.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          I read it as LW thinks they’re saying it’s because California is too difficult for them to want to set up business presence there but really doing it because of LW’s age. If that is what LW meant, LW is extremely unlikely to be right given allllllllllllll the labor laws in CA and that the company does not already have a presence there. LW seems to be assuming discrimination more likely than it actually being that big a deal to work remotely from CA. LW is incorrect in that assumption.

          1. DisgruntledPelican*

            Probably because, like OP’s own manager it seems, many people have no idea geographical location is an issue. And if it hasn’t been explained to them well, and instead they were just given some vague, nebulous “California is hard” explanation, it can definitely feel like things are fishy.

        3. JM60*

          This type confusion is surprisingly common. So many people who are against adding sexual orientation as a protected class think it would mean you can’t fire someone who is queer, but it really just means that you can’t fire someone for being queer (or even for being straight for that matter, but being fired for being straight is rare).

    2. Banana*

      As long as their answer was not based on the LW’s age (and there are strong indications it was not) then their age is not relevant and they don’t have any recourse from that avenue.

      1. Stacy*

        I glazed over that last point. Does the letter writer think that being over 40 means they can do whatever they want?

        1. sdog*

          She seems to be implying that it’s so ridiculous that the only reason they could be saying no is because of her age.

          1. PlainJane*

            That’s my guess (“I’m older and they want to get rid of me, so they’re making up this stuff about California as an excuse”). Not true, but that’s the only thought process that makes sense for the comment.

          2. Maggie*

            I just read it as I’m over 40 so I’ll threaten legal action to make them do what I want because that’s something I thought of. OP needs to get a grip

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I don’t think that’s particularly charitable and I wouldn’t assume that about OP. They’re just upset and didn’t know about the legal ramifications of moving because they’re not an employer. If there is nothing else you can think of as a reason that your boss would do a 180 change on what they promised you, it’s natural to think about discrimination.

              1. Drago Cucina*

                No, writing they they aren’t usually litigious signals to me that the LW is thinking about it. But, that’s not going to be a protection from the employer not permitting remote work from California.

                1. Lydia*

                  “I’m not litigious, but…” Yes, you are, and you have considered it to make them do what you want them to.

                2. DisgruntledPelican*

                  I feel like it needs to be mentioned that taking legal action when you’re being discriminated against is not a bad thing. And if you think you’re being discriminated against, you’re not a bad person for wondering what your rights are/what legal recourse you have and seeking advice on that, even if the advice turns out to be explaining that you’re not experiencing discrimination.

              2. Lydia*

                There are plenty of other reasons the OP could have come up with well before “they are discriminating against me because of my age.” The boss told them they had looked into it, meaning they would consider it, not that it was a done deal. Absolutely nothing was promised to the OP. The OP filled in a lot of blanks between “will look into it” and “it will be fine, go for it.” Unfortunately for the OP, it was not fine, and they should not have gone for it before making absolutely sure.

                1. The Real Fran Fine*

                  Agreed. OP erred here. Hope she can get her deposit back for that apartment because yikes! I can’t imagine that was cheap.

          3. Rake*

            I read it as “of an age where finding a new job could be much more difficult” so not that the company is discriminating by denying the move but potential new employers discriminating in hiring.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              They explicitly mentioned the possibility of legal action, so I think it’s more than that

      2. Cmdrshpard*

        Being discriminated for your age is one thing, being able to prove it is another.

        Even if OP was being discriminated based on their age, whoever did it went about it in a smart way and covered their tracks with enough reasonable business reasons for not allowing it.

        Just to be clear I don’t actually think OP is being discriminated. The reasons Alison provided are justifiable.

        At this point you would likely need a smoking gun email/conversation saying “they are old we can just say no to the move as a way to get rid of them.” or something along those lines.

        1. ferrina*

          Or show that they allowed a younger employee to relocate to a similar state under similar conditions (i.e., it not being a nexus). But based on how significant the burden is in California, it would make sense that they’d allow more business-friendly states but not California.

          1. Sal*

            I wonder what the caselaw on this is. (There HAS to be caselaw on this at this point, right? Are any other states equivalent for the similarly-situated analysis?)

            1. AcademiaNut*

              In general, it can be really hard to prove subtle discrimination for a single person. Egregious cases, particularly if they put stuff in writing or say things publicly, or statistics make it much easier. If you’ve got emails that discuss giving raises to men instead of women because they deserve it more, or you can show that women and men in a same role on average get paid different it’s very different from having two employees, one male one female, where the male makes more. In a totally fair system, with two people, there’d be equal chances of one of them making more than the other.

            2. hbc*

              Not a lawyer, but I think it would be very hard to have a case where the situations were close enough that the only factor could be age/gender/race/whatever. Just because you let one employee move to California doesn’t mean everyone can move to any state they want since those are less strict for employers. It would be believable to hear “We did it once but realized we really shouldn’t have” or “We can manage X states but not X+1 right now” or “we don’t need a second presence in that time zone enough to cover another state.”

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It is irrelevant unless they allow employees under 40 to live in California and telework from there. But the extra burden of understanding and following California’s employment laws would be the same if the employee were under 30, so I am guessing they don’t allow any employees to live in California while working at the company!

      1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

        This. The issue is California, not age, unless the company allows the under-40 crowd to work from CA. Which would be truly bizarre. You’d win *that* case, OP! Too bad it’s not the case you’ve got.

    4. sdog*

      I guess Alison could have mentioned it. But honestly, to me, just going through all the legitimate reasons why this move is an issue seemed enough without engaging in the “possible discrimination” speculation.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, LW seems to think the only good reason for the 180 is age discrimination. Once Alison mentions all the valid and complex very good reasons for the 180, it’s like…why would your age need to have anything to do with it? They have actual real reasons.

    5. Shhhh*

      Yeah, I wish that had been specifically addressed – given the legal issues involved and especially given that the state in question is California, it’s very likely that there is no age discrimination case to be had here. The only way I’d imagine there would be is if the company already had employees in California or later approves a request for someone to move there but still doesn’t approve the same for the LW.

      I’m sure the LW is frustrated by the fact they were told yes and then later told no and I’m sure that’s where that piece is coming from. But it’s really, really unlikely that they have a case.

      1. Banana*

        Even if they approve it for someone else, some key reasons in Allison’s response could apply situationally (I’m thinking of the exempt status and eligibility to be treated as a consultant.) It might need to be someone situated very similarly to the LW for it to be an issue. For example, if the reason boils down to the LW being technically non exempt in Cali but another employee who is 100% exempt is allowed to do it, the age is still not the issue.

      2. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Yup. Same exact thing happened to my husband (who was 32 at the time, so the age thing wouldn’t even apply). We decided to move from the East Coast to California. He told his company, they were initially on board, then they came back and said never mind, we can’t support employees in California. He ended up getting a new and better job here, but based on their explanation it was purely due to the fact that California is a difficult state for them to support.

    6. CommanderBanana*

      The company isn’t not letting the LW work remotely from California because of her age. Ageism is a real thing, and invoking it here is doing a disservice to people who are legitimately discriminated against because of their age.

    7. BlondeSpiders*

      I think it speaks to the fact that her company/manager did not explain it well at all. If they had laid out even half of the info Alison gave here, the OP would probably understand. But if the manager was vague or weird about it, I can see how OP might think something inappropriate was happening.

      1. Sam I Am*

        IDK, they sounded like they didn’t know why the answer was no and supplied that detail in case it mattered. The “do whatever thay want” bit of your response sounds like you’re jumping to conclusions.

      2. Lydia*

        We don’t know what reasons they gave, but it’s probable they said they would look into it, they did, and then told her there are legal reasons they can’t do it. Not to be too harsh, but if someone is asking to work remotely from a state where the company has no presence and was told no, it won’t work out, that is the explanation. They don’t need to explain the whole process to the OP. “From an HR perspective, it won’t work out.” “Since we don’t have a presence there already, it won’t work out.” “Setting up one employee in California is not worth it; it won’t work out.” That’s it.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          If I didn’t understand why it wouldn’t work out, I’d ask just that. Especially if I knew that other workers had relocated to different states and had it work out fine. Being brushed off with “It won’t work out,” would not sit well with me.

          1. SofiaDeo*

            I agree, but LW didn’t press for answers, or at least didn’t say they did. If one doesn’t ask for details, you probably aren’t going to get them. IMO very few people are going to initially go into lengthy, detailed reasons behind their reasoning up front, right?

    8. lost academic*

      A lot of people seem to think because the OP mentioned age it was some sort of major red flag. I don’t see that. I see someone who just doesn’t have any knowledge of the tax situation with respect to employees in new states being totally flummoxed that they’d be told no and, not coming up with a legitimate reason for the company to say no, wondered if it was an illegitimate reason. The answer is just no, or, at the very least, not the overarching reason (not enough information to know if there’s anything to it and no reason to think so).

      Alison’s answer is perfect, maps out the most reasonable chain of events, and is a good reference in this time of substantial remote work. It helps also to remember that just because someone is The Boss/The Employer it doesn’t mean they’ve researched all of this sort of thing and have all the answers.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I think the reason people (including me) are seeing it as a red flag is that it comes off as “I know it isn’t likely to be discrimination actually, but I do have this protected characteristic that I could use to force them to allow me to do what I want, but I won’t do that because I’m not litigious so I will let the company get away with it this time” – which leaves a bit of a bad taste. Good job I am not an advice columnist as it would be tempting to call her bluff and suggest pursuing the age angle and see how far that goes… (hint: not very).

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Yes, as someone who has been discriminated against because of my religion, it’s just gross.

      2. Tesuji*

        Sorry, this is a major red flag.

        Any time an employee starts threatening a lawsuit, I wouldn’t expect them to be around for much longer.

        Either they’re right, and they’re going to be parting ways with a nice settlement… or they’re wrong, and the company is going to go out of its way to be scrupulous in their dealings with the employee, with everything in writing and everything done to the letter of the law, right up to the day they find a reason to cut them loose.

        Just breathing the words ‘protected class’ is a sign to end the conversation, bring it to legal, and do everything exactly as legal tells you, with zero deviation or wiggle room.

      3. Lydia*

        People are seeing it as a red flag because the OP is waving it. “They are lucky I won’t sue for discrimination, because I am a protected class.” No, they aren’t lucky. OP doesn’t have a case and is trying to use their protected class as some sort of blank check to get what they want. Me being over 40 doesn’t mean my employer has to let me work from wherever I want. That’s not how it works.

    9. Maggie*

      There’s no way to “invoke the law” to “make them” allow this because what they’re doing is 100% legal and not even in a grey area. It’s just literally completely legal and actually a common business practice. (And fwiw I don’t even think it’s wrong or bad- businesses don’t have to open business nexus in every state because a remote employee wants to move.)

    10. Mockingjay*

      I’m well over 40 and when I requested permanent telework to move to another state 1 1/2 years ago, age was not a factor. What was the deciding factor? Whether my company had a business presence (nexus) in my new state. And I was fully prepared for the answer to be: NO. (Fortunately my company does have presence in New State and agreed.)

      Businesses are located in certain areas for myriad reasons. Yes, many jobs can be performed remotely, but that doesn’t mean those jobs should or will be. A company provides employment, not personal life wish fulfillment.

    11. hbc*

      I thought she was mentioning it the same way some managers will say, “We can’t fire Maude, she’s old and in a protected class,” no matter that Maude is doing bad things that are easily documented. Some people don’t understand the difference between “You can’t fire people simply because they’re old” and “You can’t fire old people.”

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I don’t think she did.

        “While I know California presents its challenges for employers, something doesn’t feel right here. I am of an age that is a protected class, but I have loved this company and I’m not a litigious person, so I don’t want to invoke the law to make them let me do this.”

        In two sentences, she literally lays out an argument that:
        – She knows California is tough to set up business in
        – She thinks something else is fishy though
        – Her age puts her in a protected class
        – She claims to not be litigious
        – She thinks there is a law/legal case that will force them into letting her work from California

    12. BethRA*

      It would be relevant if the company applied this rule or others differently for employees who weren’t in that class. (I realize that’s not the case, but from the letter, it sounded like OP thought they were being forced out for some reason and the company saying they couldn’t continue working for them if OP moved to CA was just pretext)

  4. Alldogsarepuppies*

    Being a protected age class doesn’t mean you can do anything without penalty, it just means they can’t treat you different because of your age. I.e. if younger person was allowed to move to CA but you aren’t.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, if they are discriminating against anything, it is California, and California is not a protected class!

      But seriously, I worked for a remote company with work from home employees all over the country, but it was under a huge corporation where the nexus existed in every state and almost every country in the world already! It is a lot of work to not just follow, but even figure out the employment laws in a bunch of different states.

      1. Pidgeot*

        If Alison ever makes more merch, “___ is not a protected class” would be an awesome sticker/t-shirt/mug

        1. Anonosaurus*

          Plus the “just because I hate you doesn’t make this a hostile environment” hoodie to match?

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        100%.

        And the thing is, if you have a big corporation like that with a lot of nexus locations, there is software & infrastructure you can put in place to aid with the calculations & HR people you can hire who help to manage that. If you’re not that big and only have a few locations, that sort of infrastructure investment is a huge and unnecessary expense.

  5. Tio*

    Oof, the company should have looked into this before you did your test run, OP. But also, even as a “protected age” you’re not going to be able to litigate your way out of this, I don’t think – you’re not being denied because of that, you’re being denied because the company doesn’t work in California. Sounds like you’re going to have to make a choice on the company vs. the location.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It also does not sound like they would allow a younger employee to live and work for the company in California, which blows the protected class issue right out of the water.

    2. Pinto*

      My guess is the people OP was talking to had no idea and it wasn’t until HR and/or Legal got wind of it that the breaks were put on. For a small single state company allowing workers to live and work remotely out of state can be crippling. As for consulting/contacting , OP if your company already uses contractors from an agency it could be worthwhile to see if that organization has a nexus to CA and if your company would be willing to work out deal with them to take you on and contract you back to your current employer.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > if your company would be willing to work out deal with them to take you on and contract you back to your current employer

        Of course the risk with that is the contracting agency could change OPs assignment at any time and send her to work somewhere else…

        1. Lydia*

          There are cases where the contract is with that specific employer for a specific length of time and the contract company can’t just up and move people. I worked under a contract like that along with several other people. There was one contracting company for this company, they agreed to provide X people for X months and could not just move people to a different gig week to week. Once that contracted period ended, that was another thing altogether, but for the six months I was under that contract, I was the person there.

      2. I Need Coffee*

        Several states, and particularly California, have a very limited view of the length and scope of work for contractors before they need to be converted to FTEs or significant financial penalties are incurred.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          In the situation that Pinto is describing though, the OP would be an FTE/W2 employee of the contingent staff firm, on assignment to $EMPLOYER. That’s different from being a 1099/independent contractor.

  6. Smithy*

    Sigh. These letters frustrate me, when essentially the impetus from the bosses is a mix of being nice and asking for forgiveness instead of permission. And then when they finally do ask, have to turn around and say “oops, nope”.

    I grew up in a tri-state area, so the idea of someone having a job in State A and living in State B was really normal to me. Now clearly, for endless regional areas, these exceptions are commonly baked into either law or business practice. But it certainly had me growing up with a lot of assumptions about working in one state and living in another being “no big deal”, and also nothing I’d bother to ask about more generically.

    It was only after reading this site regularly that it was clear how much of a big deal it could be, especially for smaller or regional employers that didn’t have a reason for a more national footprint. All to say, I get why anyone might not know this and assume differently – but the OP’s bosses owed better due diligence in advance on this one.

    1. goducks*

      Working in one state but living in another is generally not a big deal, as the issues are the employee’s own.

      This is is an instance where the employee wants to work in a state that the company doesn’t operate in, and doesn’t want to operate in for various reasons.

      If the employee moved to California and commuted to the state where the employer operates to work each day, the issues would largely go away from the employer’s perspective.

      1. Smithy*

        Ha! See – I clearly still don’t entirely understand this. Which ultimately goes to my larger point that getting confused about this and what could/should be easy….isn’t. As this is still a distinction that clearly confuses me.

        1. doreen*

          The distinction is that if I live in NJ and commute to work in NY every day, I am working in NY and my employer must follow NY laws regarding worker’s comp, labor laws , has a nexus in NY and so on. None of those things change because I live in NJ ( or Vermont or Connecticut or if I live in California and fly to NY to work every Monday and fly home every Wednesday) If I work in NJ for a NY company, it doesn’t matter if I work from home or if they rent a NJ office for their NJ sales rep to work out of . It doesn’t even matter if the NJ rep lives in NY and commutes to work in NJ – as long as the work is being done in NJ , there will be a nexus in NJ and the NJ laws must be followed. The short version is that what matters is where the work is done.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Yep, reciprocity agreements just make it easier for the out-of-state employee to file their taxes, because the employer can withhold taxes for the employee’s home state right off the bat. Without a reciprocity agreement, the out-of-state employee would need to file a special form with their tax return that claims a refund for 100% of the taxes that were withheld on behalf of the state where the work is done, and leaves them owing 100% of the taxes owed to the state the employee lives in.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          The issue that triggers the legal issues is “place of employment”. IE where you physically work.

          But your point is a good one. A lot of places it’s pretty common to work in a different state in which you live (I’ve done it) without realizing it’s only “on big deal” because companies (and in many cases governments) have already worked out the issues.

        3. Clisby*

          Where you live doesn’t matter as far as nexus is concerned. What matters is where you do the work. So, I live in SC. It’s *very* common for people to live in the Rock Hill area and commute to work in Charlotte, NC. Or live in Aiken and commute to Augusta, GA, to work. Where they *live* is irrelevant. In these examples, they physically work in NC or they physically work in GA – those are the employment/tax/etc. laws that apply. If they were working remotely from SC, then the laws of SC would apply, and maybe their companies wouldn’t want to deal with that.

          1. Merrie*

            Though companies that operate in border areas like that and let their workers work remotely presumably have a nexus in the other state to get around this problem. It makes sense to have a nexus in NC if you are in SC on the NC/SC border and you have or could have employees who live in NC since it’s a reasonable driving distance. You wouldn’t have a reason to have a nexus in Florida or California or another far-away state though, and if one of your remote employees wanted to work there you’d have a problem in that respect.

        4. Maggie*

          The distinction is where the work is occurring, not where the employer lives. That’s the confusing part. Which is why in office jobs it doesn’t apply to as much

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          It’s pretty straightforward. Where are you physically located when you perform your job/work? That is enough, for some states, to create a nexus and require the employer to follow that state’s labor laws and pay taxes. In our project time tracking program, one of the required entry fields is location – where were you when you performed the work – to help the finance department comply with the laws.

          I work in DC, but I live in one of the neighboring states. It’s very common in DC/VA/MD to live in one and work in another, and the jurisdictions have reciprocity agreements so I only have to pay state taxes in the state in which I reside. I’d imagine that’s common in a lot of near-the-border jurisdictions.

      2. Snow Globe*

        You would think-but not necessarily! My husband’s employer is currently in a fight with California over an issue where they hired a guy for a temporary job who had just moved from California. Since he was living locally at the time, it didn’t seem like an issue. But a year later, California starts sending letters demanding payroll taxes on the employee, sine he lived the majority of the year in CA, and never changed his residency. That does not make sense to me, but the company had to hire a lawyer to sort it all out, and I think they did end up paying something.

        1. goducks*

          This is almost certainly because the employee did something wrong on their own income taxes, not because the employer did. If the employer paid, it may be because fighting to get it fixed was starting to cost more than CA was seeking making it easier just to pay it to end it.
          I’ve been in a battle with CA over their mistaken claims of nexxus. It’s expensive and time-consuming because CA can be very, very aggressive about these matters. If this was a time-limited situation, I can see it being easier to just pay it to make it go away.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      A LOT of people didn’t know this until recently. Remote work was a lot rarer, and typically came from employers who knew what they were getting into. Frankly, a lot of people were probably operating illegally and it just didn’t get caught as much because there was less oversight. We’re watching remote work now from legal angles and as it booms, more people are running into the associated obstacles. It sucks, and I strongly think we need to reconsider how we handle remote work on a national level, but we aren’t there yet.

      1. hbc*

        Yeah, I casually lived in another country for 4 months and worked out of my company’s head office. The trip was nominally for my husband’s sabbatical, so I think the paperwork (where we actually became temporary residents) just assumed I was a tag-along on a break, and my company and I didn’t see a problem because I was still doing the same work for the same company, similar to every other (much shorter) trip I made there. Whoops.

    3. Water Snake*

      Living in one state and working in another is not a big deal.

      Having your company located in one state and working in another *can* be a big deal.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, well, most companies in my state will allow it and are set up to follow the laws in nearby/bordering states, but not ones that are not nearby. This letter sounds like California is pretty far away from where the company is based and they did not have any other employees there. And again, California is very different in terms of employment laws.

    5. sdog*

      The issue isn’t living in one state and working in another. That’s ok. In this case, the employee wants to move to and work out of that other state. And I sympathize with employers on this. It’s a tricky issue that a lot of people just didn’t even realize was a problem until recently when more and more people started working fully remote. I agree that the time to look into this was when the employee first started mentioning it or even just went out to CA to do her test run, but it doesn’t sound like she sought out an opinion on this either before moving ahead with her plan.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Well, teleworking is now common enough, even before the pandemic, that people living in separate states from where their office is located was pretty common. I think most businesses near state borders tend to know the rules in the neighboring state.

    6. doreen*

      “All to say, I get why anyone might not know this and assume differently – but the OP’s bosses owed better due diligence in advance on this one.”

      I get that too – except I can understand why the bosses assumed it wasn’t a problem. For the same reasons that anyone else would assume it wasn’t a problem – because they didn’t have any remote workers who lived in another state, because it’s common to live in NJ and work in NY and not realizing that working in NJ for a NY company isn’t the same thing and so on.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep. I’ve been watching people do this since pre-pandemic times (I worked at a hybrid company that was set up only in certain states). Our poor HR/Payroll person regularly had to deal with fallout of managers promising that it would be fine if an employee worked from Random State.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yes, they should have been on the ball sooner. They also should have said, “that sounds great, OP, but let us check with legal and HR first to make sure there aren’t any potential problems for the company with that arrangement.” But I do think they just were oblivious that they even needed to check.

        Also, the boss should now be far more apologetic and should be explaining the reasons that the company cannot accommodate OP. I mean, based on the letter, OP had no idea why it would be a problem, which means they did not bother to explain it to her. That’s not good.

    7. lost academic*

      In areas like that, the companies that operate in that space have already taken the multistate staffing situation into account because they have to. Average local/regional company that isn’t in that same situation and has someone move across the country or whatnot has likely never had a reason to consider it and it’s not the cost of doing business for them. As others also note, residence state and employment location are handled differently.

    8. I should really pick a name*

      To be fair, the LW could have also stated that they were planning to move permanently before putting down a deposit. Communication could have been improved on both sides.

    9. LabTechNoMore*

      The really frustrating piece for me was the explanation of how California’s better labor laws means the employer might have to *gasp* treat their employees better. And we can all agree that LW having slightly less awful employee protections under the law is an objectively bad thing. (I know this is just AAM explaining the company’s possible reservations, many of which are valid, but labor rights and work culture here are awful.)

      1. I should really pick a name*

        It’s not just the better labour laws that are a deterrent though. There are significant costs outside of that which could be prohibitive to pay just for one employee to work in that state.

      2. doreen*

        It’s not always that California treats employees better- sometimes it’s just different. The overtime after 8 hours rule means people in lots of jobs cannot work four 10 hour days, as there would be two hours of overtime each day.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          No, it means they would have to be paid more to work 10 hour shifts. Which is not unreasonable.

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            Minor correction: this is only for non-exempt employees. Exempt employees aren’t required to get OT. CA state law for exempt/non-exempt is also different, but not substantially so. (And this assumes the company is legally compliant with their own state laws in the first place. Which is not commonplace.)

          2. doreen*

            Right – they would have to be paid more to work four ten hour shifts. Which makes sense ,maybe, if we are talking about employer-mandated 10 hour shifts. But why would any employer choose to pay me more because I would like to work a four day week if the employer is indifferent as to how or when I work my forty hours? And the answer is they won’t, not if they can find someone who will work five 8 hour days . So if I would prefer to work four 10 hour shifts or three 12 hour shifts for personal reasons ( extra days off, fewer commuting days,) , my employer very likely won’t allow it because they will be paying 8-12 hours of overtime that doesn’t benefit the employer, only me.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              Assuming you are non-exempt, that is correct. If there were a way to waive OT, companies would just require employees to sign it away as part of their new hire paperwork.

          3. Qwerty*

            Employers can require you to only work your shift each day. AAM has had a couple posts where the conclusion was that working unapproved overtime after being told to stop was grounds for termination.

            So what doreen is pointing out is that flexible schedules are not allowed in a lot of jobs for this reason. Working late on Tuesday so you leave early Friday becomes prohibited, so you have to use PTO or take the time unpaid anytime you want to adjust your schedule. Asking to switch from 8×5 to 10×4 schedule would be denied because it would be a much higher cost for the company.

            Personally, I found the law restrictive. I worked as an intern for a Big Tech company in multiple states and had way better work/life balance in the non-California location because I had control over my own schedule.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              The law doesn’t say you can’t control your own schedule, it just says you have to be paid extra for working more than 8 hours a day if you are non-exempt. It incentivizes the employer not to work non-exempt employees for longer days.

              1. Observer*

                That’s a distinction without a difference. Because basically you are fining the employer if they allow a non-exempt employee to work anything but a 9-5 schedule. Which really, really stinks for people who need to take off early on Friday- there is no way to work a 40 hour week that way without costing the employer a pretty penny.

                1. LabTechNoMore*

                  Exempt employees can, indeed, take off on Fridays. Hourly workers also can take off earlier on Fridays, if they worked extra hours earlier in the week. An employer might even adjust their schedule to take off 1.5OT instead of straight time in order to make up for the difference in pay. (They still have to officially pay OT; comp time doesn’t make up for it.)

                2. Observer*

                  You keep on harping on exempt employees. Which doesn’t help all the NON-exempt employees out there. And there are a LOT of them.

                  Hourly workers also can take off earlier on Fridays, if they worked extra hours earlier in the week.

                  Not without penalizing the employer. Which means that unlike in NY, where 9 time out of 10 you can argue that a schedule adjustment is a reasonable religious accommodation, you can’t make that argument in CA.

                3. LabTechNoMore*

                  Which doesn’t help all the NON-exempt employees out there. And there are a LOT of them.

                  I’ve addressed this. The non-exempt employee would just get off even earlier on Friday compared to the exempt employee (at a x1.5 multiplier) if the employer didn’t want to shell out more for their pay. It’s not the giant imposition you’re insisting it is.

                4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                  “I’ve addressed this. The non-exempt employee would just get off even earlier on Friday compared to the exempt employee (at a x1.5 multiplier) if the employer didn’t want to shell out more for their pay.”

                  Which still hurts the employer and makes them less likely to approve the arrangement. If I’m a non-exempt employee who wants to work a 10×4 week (not uncommon in many places), the employer must either pay me a for an extra four hours (something that hurts them) or let me work 9×4 so I get fours extra hours of comp time (so again, hurting the company who get four less hours of work for the same pay). In either case it turns what should be a slightly unconventional, but still even, hour split into a net loss for the company. Making them less likely to approve the arrangement due to circumstances that the employee can’t change or waive.

                  No one is saying that if the company wants to enforce a 10×4 this wouldn’t help the employee, what we’re saying is that it likely hurts the *employee’s* flexibility because what sensible company is going to pay you for 40 hours when you worked 36, or pay you for 44 hours or when you worked 40, of all they have to do to avoid it is work you on a conventional schedule. Employees are, often if not more commonly, the ones asking for a 4×10 or 9×9 schedule, but what sensible company will approve that if it will cost them either money or time.

                5. LabTechNoMore*

                  I’m not about to buy into the absurd notion that more robust labor laws actually hurt the employee. If employers can’t pay extra for longer hours, they shouldn’t be in business.

                6. hbc*

                  LabTech, the employer doesn’t want the longer hours, the *employee* does. At my manufacturing facility, we offered up both the standard
                  8 hour 5 day and a 10 hour 4 day schedule during the pandemic. More than half the hourly employees chose the latter.

                  We could *not* have offered this perk to employees in California since it would cost us money.

                7. LabTechNoMore*

                  I’m not sympathetic to employer’s facing arrangements that require overtime given the decades of wage suppression in the US.

                8. DisgruntledPelican*

                  LabTech, are you not understanding that employers in CA do not *have* to allow their non-exempt employees to work whatever schedule they want if it means them going into overtime? You say “if employers can’t pay the overtime they shouldn’t be in business” but you don’t seem to understand that it’s not about *can’t*, it about *don’t want to and can schedule you so they don’t have to.” Like the example of the person who wants 4 10 hour shifts instead of 5 8 hours. The employer can just…say no. And the employee has to accept that. That’s what people are saying. The employer gets to say “that schedule costs me more, so you have to work the normal 8 hour day schedule instead of the other schedule that is more beneficial to you.”

                9. LabTechNoMore*

                  Yes, the alternative is adequate staffing so that employees don’t have to work OT. However, the trend has been consolidating roles and overloading employees with the work of several positions, without compensation reflecting this reality. Stop trying to normalize screwing over your employees.

              2. BirdJinks*

                wait, this can’t be accurate. I work for a large public employer in CA and I have many coworkers who are non-exempt and working flex schedules that have them working more than 8 hrs/day, and they are not getting overtime.

                1. sdog*

                  I also work for a government employer that regularly offers 4-10s and 9-8s. There’s an exception in the labor code that allows employers to do this without paying OT. These alternative schedules have always been common in the public sector, where I work.

          4. SarahKay*

            Well, if the company is asking them to work those shifts then it’s not unreasonable for the company to have to pay overtime. But what if the worker says they want to compact their week and just work four days – is it still reasonable for the company to have to pay them overtime? Because honestly I’m not sure it is.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              One more time: That is if the employee is non-exempt. No one is addressing that. Doreen has not stated whether or not they are exempt. You are assuming that to be the case.

              Secondly, the only other possibility here would be for the law to allow employees to waive their right to OT. In which case, companies would have incentive to require employees to do so routinely.

              1. doreen*

                I wasn’t talking about a personal situation. I was talking about cases where California requires overtime after 8 hours – which of course only applies to people in jobs and situations which are not exempt from overtime laws. (There seems to be a provision where alternative work schedules don’t require overtime if 2/3 of the work unit elects that schedule in a secret ballot) And yes, one possibility would be to allow people to waive their right to overtime. Another would be to only require overtime after a certain number of hours per week, like most other states and the Federal government. Neither system is objectively better than the other – it entirely depends on personal preference.

                1. LabTechNoMore*

                  If you’ve ever worked 10-14 hour shifts, and never received a cent of OT for it, I don’t think you’d be saying “neither is superior”.

                2. Observer*

                  @LabTechNoMore, you say that “If you’ve ever worked 10-14 hour shifts, and never received a cent of OT for it, I don’t think you’d be saying “neither is superior”.

                  Well, I can tell you that you are flat out wrong. I know a number of people who chose to work 4 – 10’s because it worked so much better for them. (14 hour shifts are crazy in any case.) Just because YOU don’t see any advantage to such a schedule doesn’t mean that it’s not beneficial to other people.

                3. LabTechNoMore*

                  And I can see you’ve never ended up working “surprise double shifts” for weeks on end, without seeing an extra cent of money. It cuts both ways.

                4. LabTechNoMore*

                  If anything, seeing how viciously anti-labor the commenters here are, it underscores the necessity for these kinds of laws to exist.

                5. doreen*

                  @LabTechNoMore, I worked plenty of 10-14 hour shifts within receiving a cent of overtime pay – even though it brought me over 40 hours for the week. Because I was a government employee who was permitted to take compensatory time rather than pay and I chose the time because it was more valuable* to me. Nobody is talking about working double shifts for weeks without either overtime pay or time off. We’re talking about being able to leave an early on Friday because you worked an hour extra on Tuesday without having to use 1.5 hours of PTO to leave an hour early on Friday .(which is what I think you are talking about and if California allows that , which it doesn’t seem that likely)

                  * The time was more valuable because I knew I would be taking child-care leave at some point and the comp time would keep me on the payroll with employer paid benefits for a longer period of time.

                6. LabTechNoMore*

                  We’re talking about being able to leave an early on Friday because you worked an hour extra on Tuesday without having to use 1.5 hours of PTO to leave an hour early on Friday .(which is what I think you are talking about and if California allows that , which it doesn’t seem that likely)

                  No, I’m not referring to PTO. I’m saying that if the employer absolutely, positively couldn’t afford to pay overtime (despite the extra labor being done by the employee generating more revenue), then they could just let the employee off earlier the next day.

                  They would still be required to pay 1.5x OT (or doubletime if the employee worked >12 hours), but could recover that by having the employee work 1.5x fewer hours on Friday, which would balance out the pay.

                  However, I’m also going to push back against the paradigm that employers couldn’t possibly pay more to their employees for working more. Wages have been suppressed for decades because of these kinds of attitudes.

                7. New Jack Karyn*

                  “If you’ve ever worked 10-14 hour shifts, and never received a cent of OT for it, I don’t think you’d be saying “neither is superior”.

                  Don’t tell other people what they do or don’t think about their own experiences and preferences.

                8. LabTechNoMore*

                  And don’t disingenuously claim employee protections hurt employees, instead of protecting them. We would still have slavery if it weren’t against the law to do so.

                9. New Jack Karyn*

                  People are saying that in this one particular case, some workers would prefer to work 4×10 instead of 5×8. That’s not an unheard-of thing for a worker to want. In California, OT laws make this infeasible for most employers to allow. So they don’t allow it, and the worker does not get the schedule they would prefer.

                  I don’t understand why this seems so difficult for you to grasp.

                10. LabTechNoMore*

                  And numerous comments have chimed in explaining that the law actually has a carve out for alternate schedules, which I presume you have not yet read.

          5. sdog*

            But this is really something that varies by state. The CA Labor Code does actually provide an opportunity for employers to offer alternative work schedules, including 4-10s, without paying overtime, so long as it’s part of a regular schedule and the total hours don’t exceed 40.

            1. doreen*

              I mentioned above that there seems to be an exception in CA where if 2/3 of the work unit votes for an alternative schedule in a secret ballot , then overtime doesn’t have to be paid for hours over 8 in a day but that doesn’t allow an employer to give employees flexibility on a individual basis – if half of my work unit votes against an alternative work schedule , I can’t have one.

          1. Leave a Message at the Beep*

            9×4 +4 is my preferred schedule. And mine alone. No one else at my job likes those hours. But, I don’t work in California. 4×10 is pretty common here too. It’s nice to be treated like grownups who can set their schedules to what they like best. Sometimes I even work Sunday to take off Friday.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              This is a false dichotomy. The options here aren’t between better OT protections vs “being treated like an adult.”

        2. HoundMom*

          Good point. Good companies will treat their employees well without it being mandated. Some of the mandates actually hurt employees. The state STD benefit is as rich as a privately sponsored plan, but CA employees pay for that through payroll taxes, where if the same employee lived in Iowa, they would get a similar benefit and the company pays the full cost. And, they do not let third parties administer the state STD benefit so the employee has to apply two different places to ensure they do not lose benefits.

          There are a number of examples like that.

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            The whole reason labor laws exist is because companies, if left to their own devices, will not treat employees well.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              I can’t tell if you’re missing the point on purpose or are so traumatized by some abusive employer that you can’t imagine someone wanting to do what we’re saying, but the point here is that at many non-abusive, perfectly normal, workplaces non-exempt employees like to work extra hours each day in the week, so they can can take off or work half days on a certain day (usually Friday). The employee *wants* this. It often considered a benefit to have this sort of flexible schedule.

              Under these circumstances many if not most employers would not allow this flexibility. It will now, rather than being a neutral no-lose situation, cost the employer either time or money, so they’ll deny it. This is a problem for employees who might wish to exercise the option.

              1. LabTechNoMore*

                More to your point, I’m going by history. Every labor law is written in blood. Hell, the requirement that labor simply be paid took a whole war to settle!

      3. I am Emily's failing memory*

        It’s not even solely that they have to treat employees better under state law, but that they have to implement a lot of administrative overhead in order to prove that they’re complying with the state laws. A company might not balk at the requirements themselves – a lot of companies do more than the bare legal minimum and may already be doing much of what California would require, but they don’t necessarily have payroll applications and compliance systems configured to prove it in precisely the way California needs to see it proven.

        1. ferrina*

          This. My company has people across the U.S., and the CA employees need their PTO treated differently (among other benefits- I only know a little bit about this). The CA compliance definitely takes a certain time commitment from HR, Finance and Legal.

        2. Tangochocolate42*

          The main reason we implemented a whole new payroll system at the beginning of this year was because we had started employing in California. We’ve reduced the number of employees overall considerably, but our payroll system is double the price (plus the cost/time of implementing it) and we’ve doubled our payroll staff. Just because of California.
          I think a lot of people think it’s just a bit more time and effort, but payroll systems and accounting systems are configured in specific ways, and changing that configuration or (frequently) moving to a new system, is the only way to comply with the different laws. It’s a major burden on reasonably small or previously straight forward companies.

      4. HBJ*

        As someone who just finished going through the process of hiring the first employee for our business (I do all the office/paperwork/HR-type stuff), I could not disagree more. Learning things like labor laws in regards to how employees should be treated in our state was a much smaller piece of the pie than learning about calculating taxes and submitting them correctly, filing reports, reporting the new hire to the state, getting insurance, finding and making sure the appropriate signage was hung up at our location, etc. was MUCH harder. I can’t even imagine how much more work it would be to do all that for a second state.

    10. Filosofickle*

      I’m feeling super lucky to have stumbled into a company that allows remote employees in all states (and more than a few countries). I had no idea about nexus issues and didn’t realize my employer is unusual, especially for a company that isn’t very big! Even with the larger shift to remote, it may not be easy to replace my perma-remote job working from California.

      1. Becky*

        I don’t know if my company allows remote work from all states, but I do know we have nexuses in at least two dozen states, including NY and CA. I am planning on moving next year to another state and the state I am considering moving to is one where I know we have a nexus and, in fact, I have a co-worker in that state already.

        Part way through the pandemic, HR sent out an email to everyone saying basically–if you’ve moved to another state and it isn’t one of the listed states (list included) where we already have a nexus, contact HR immediately.

    11. Lydia*

      I’d be interested to know how this worked for people who were forced to go remote during lockdown. I know where I used to work (across a large river from another state where people travel from one side to the other for work), it became a huge sticking point for a couple of people. They lived in State A, job was located in State B, and the company they worked for would not allow them to change their place of employment to State A for the duration of the lockdown. This is really a question I wanted to ask Alison about. Would lockdown have affected “place of employment” if the work was taking place in a different state from your normal work site?

      1. Ana Gram*

        Many states enacted emergency legislation to cover this situation during the pandemic. I live within an hour of 4 different states (5 if you count the one I live in) and I’m pretty sure each state did this. The exemptions have long since expired, though.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      Wait, how are the bosses in the wrong here? When LW came back from the month trial, a feasibility study obviously had been done in the interim, and LW was told “it won’t work.” I can’t see how any better due diligence could have been done. Unless you think it’s a good use of people’s time to investigate theoretical suppositions before staff even raise those questions?

    13. Rain's Small Hands*

      Its hard to remember that managers aren’t trained on everything and often don’t know which questions to ask. IF your manager got a business degree (and a lot of them have never taken as much as an accounting course), they probably too one or two accounting courses – where nexus was defined in terms of sales tax. And an HR course that covered payroll taxes in only the most general sense. And they might have taken those courses a LONG time ago. They might not have even the vaguest idea that this would be a big deal (this is especially true in large companies that have specialized departments for tax and payroll – and in really small companies where one person is trying to do a lot of these activities and is not a specialist in any of them) I remember explaining the difference between capital and expense to my MBA boss.

      Its also easy to forget that the manager could send off an inquiry to HR, who doesn’t know and bounces it over to Payroll, who has some concerns, and brings it to Legal, who wants to loop in Tax to get some estimates, and at every step they have other priorities – and in the glacial speed of Corporate America when this isn’t a priority for anyone but the letter writer the whole thing takes months to answer what is really obvious to those with a background in employment and/or tax.

  7. boredatwork*

    fun story time – someone hired an employee in NYC – where we didn’t previously have nexus. It came with a $3M tax bill. For one person.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      yep – it’s why NY is last on our list of places we may end up opening into. It’s cost prohibitive.

    2. Loredena*

      When I wanted to move to NY from GA I definitely double checked, having learned about nexus here! We had two regional centers so I knew we had people in both Massachusetts and Connecticut but was not sure about other states in the region. Turned out we had one person in NYC (and if that’s a typical cost I’m surprised in retrospect!)

  8. KHB*

    It sounds like your employer is probably very small, very new, and/or just hasn’t had a lot of experience with out-of-state remote workers if they’re just learning now about the implications of letting you work from California, but Alison’s right: Setting up a nexus in a new state is complicated, and California is especially so.

    I’m not sure what you think your age or protected-class status has to do with anything. They’re not telling you that you can’t work from California because of your age – they would almost certainly have said the same thing no matter how old you were.

    But I’m sorry for your year of great loss, and I hope you can get your much-needed recovery and change of scenery in some other way.

    1. so many managers so little knowledge*

      Either that, or middle management approved it without checking in with HR first, which is the other problem I’ve seen!

      1. KHB*

        At my employer, even the middle managers have it drilled into them that nobody can work remotely from another state without asking HR’s permission (and if the state is California, the answer is going to be “no”).

        1. Hello Dahlia*

          My company ran into that too, so everyone is aware now. In California, the employer has to pay for Internet for W@H too, and that turned us off as well as everything Alison mentioned.

          1. KHB*

            That seems weird to me that that would be a determining factor. Internet is not that expensive, and even my California-averse employer decided this year to give everyone an extra monthly stipend to help us offset the cost of WFH internet.

      2. Lydia*

        They never approved it. They said they would look into it. That’s not a green light to make the move; it’s a yellow light to see if it will be allowed before you make any major decisions to move.

        1. DisgruntledPelican*

          She also said they encouraged her to go and knew she was planning on making the move within the first week of her trip. The wording is slightly unclear, but it even sounds like they knew about the deposit within the first week of her trip. Sounds to me like they were just as hasty as OP with their encouragement.

  9. Eldritch Office Worker*

    We’ve run into this – and have in fact set up at least three nexuses (nexi?) that I’m aware of. It’s incredibly difficult and expensive. I’m sorry, OP, this sounds really frustrating. But the only thing they did wrong was make bad assumptions, they aren’t discriminating against you or doing anything else that’s actionable.

    1. KHB*

      Off-topic Latin geekery, but: “Nexus” as a noun is fourth declension, which would mean that the plural of “nexus” is “nexus.” (The much more common -us/-i pattern is second declension.)

      1. Delta Delta*

        I am the child of a retired Latin teacher, and it’s actually giving me some happy feels that you said this. I can hear my mom sort of blandly saying this in a matter-of-fact way and it’s making me smile because it reminds me of lots of conversations like this I’ve had with her over my life.

          1. Nightengale*

            We switched to Ecce Romani my second year. My first Latin translation was from an older text:

            “Roma est in Italia. Italia est in Europa. Sicilia et Sardinia sunt in Europa. Sicilia et Sardinia sunt insulae. Italia non insula est. Italia est paene* insula. Footnote: *paene insula. What do we call an ‘almost island’ in English?”

            1. Sharpie*

              Sounds somewhat like Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata. Although that doesn’t introduce ‘paene’ on the first page. Tiberis est fluvius. Nilus quoque fluvius est.

        1. Rara Avis*

          I have taught ALL the Latin books referenced in this thread. Yikes, I’ve been doing this for a long time.

      2. Beany*

        Thank you! Now if you could find a way to stop people I know saying “I’m an alumni of “, that would be great.

  10. CTT*

    How many lawyers of AAM had flashbacks to reading International Shoe Co. in civil procedure reading this answer?

    1. Delta Delta*

      Hahahaha! A fellow lawyer friend and I wanted to make highly dramatized movies out of civ pro cases. We were going to start with Burger King v. Rudzewicz, and even had a gritty opening scene all planned out. Maybe we all need a subreddit called Civil Procedure Flashbacks or something.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Oh man, this reminds me – what was that hilarious reenactment video someone put together based on a real life deposition transcript? It was something where a corporate guy was being ridiculously obtuse and basically trying to claim he didn’t know what a copy machine was, or something along those lines, because some penalty the company was potentially liable for was all hinging on proving that they knew what they were doing and so they needed this guy to basically say on the record, “yes, there was a copy machine in the office and we used it,” and he was steadfastly refusing to admit this.

        1. Observer*

          Is that the same guy who claimed he didn’t know if President Obama and Kwame Kilpatrick (Former mayor of Detroit) were black?

            1. Observer*

              OK, that’s a different one. The one thing I was thinking of was specifically about racial discrimination.

            2. Not Mindy*

              I cannot thank you enough for sharing that link. It made me both cringe for the plight of humanity and feel better about my own growing disdain for the world at large!

    2. Corporate Lawyer*

      LOL! I basically slept through Civ Pro, so I have very little recollection. I don’t know what it was about that class that put me to sleep every single time.

  11. Tech writer by day*

    Remember, you are not stuck. You can seek out remote positions in companies that do have a nexus in CA. Sounds like you have a lot to offer, so you might even find something better at a higher salary.

    1. Ama*

      I was looking at remote positions for a little while and it seemed like many of the remote positions at companies based in CA said on the listing that they strongly preferred the employee live in CA themselves, so definitely a possibility!

  12. California Love*

    Heads up! If you work more than 30 working days in a calendar year in the State of California, you (and your employer) are required to pay California state income tax.
    OP already spent “monthlong” in California testing this out. So, OP is likely at 20 or more working days in California this year already.
    Proceed with caution.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      That would be a scary situation, since OP might still owe income taxes in their home state and California has high taxes!

      1. Phony Genius*

        I think when you owe taxes to multiple states on the same income, you only pay the difference between the high and the low to the higher state. But I may be wrong.

        1. BatManDan*

          My wife has worked in multiple states over the year, repeatedly (travel nurse). Basically, you pay income tax in that state for the time you WORKED in that state, but may also pay income tax in your state of residence.
          Previously, when I have moved mid-year, I paid income tax on the income I earned in SC while I was living in SC, and income tax in MO on the income I earned while living in MO. In those cases, the work I did / income I earned matched up to my move / residency dates. (That is, no living in one state and working/earning in another.)

        2. iahveaheadache*

          It depends on the states involved. As a California resident who has worked in multiple states due to travel I have been double taxed before on some of the same income. My employer did a gross up in that situation in order to keep my take home pay whole.

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Even the difference might be greater than OP expects, but I had a situation where I lived and worked in one state and was a resident in another state and I think I was supposed to pay both, but I was really poor at the time so I really did not owe anything. It was very confusing and I was very young so I probably did it all wrong!

        4. higher ed*

          Depends on the state. I lived on the AL/GA line for years. GA gave a kind of credit for income earned in GA so I only had to pay on the tax difference. AL did not so when i worked in GA and lived in AL or vice versa, one way I didn’t pay GA but did pay AL, or paid both states the other way. I forget. It was a long time ago. Fun fact too, AL had a really regressive income tax structure so I was double taxed on eight months of part time work at 4.25 an hour. And i rented so i basically got zero tax credits. It was not great. I try not to do that anymore. Whatever I got back federal was what I owed AL.

      2. Student*

        You (generally) owe taxes on the time that you worked in the other state to that other state, and in place of taxes to your home state for the same time. So if you spend 40 working days in California and 220 days working in Ohio, then you owe state tax on about 85% of your annual income (85% = 220 days in Ohio/260 work days in a year) to Ohio at Ohio’s rate, and you owe tax on 15% of your annual income (15% = 40 days in Cali/260 work days in a year) to California at California’s tax rate.

        That’s not a 100% foolproof rule because every state gets to make its own decisions, but it’s how things work a lot of the time. There are exceptions. Also common: states that are adjacent to each other and have a lot of cross-state-border commuters will make a joint rule (reciprocation) so that commuters don’t have to do tax paperwork in both states; in such cases, the states are settling tax accounts with each other in some formal agreement to shuttle tax dollars around without getting you involved.

      3. Captain Swan*

        We had similar situation a few years ago. My husband worked for about 10 days on year in Ohio (it was like 2 seperate week long business trips). Ohio wants you to file a state tax return if you work even 1 day there. We figuredcthis out when my husband’s company sent him documentation to file the Ohio return. We did the return and he didn’t earn enough on the 10 days of wages to actually owe Ohio anything. It did make our accountant life slightly more difficult that year.

  13. Person from the Resume*

    No such policy existed because no one had tried to work from out of state or from California before. A policy was not needed before. The company/management looked into it and discovered a policy was needed because the company cannot employee California residents.

    Yes this sucks, but it would have sucked worse if you had moved and then they fired you because of this issue.

    Also it could just be wording, but per the LW’s words she never asked. I felt the need for a change of scenery and told the entire executive team that I was going to California to see if I wanted to live there. They all encouraged me to do so and I worked remotely during my month-long test.

    Since LW didn’t ask perhaps they assumed she was willing to quit if she decided to move to CA and couldn’t keep her job. We could say something about them assuming, but the LW made some big assumptions about what would be allowed without asking if it was allowed.

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      Yes, this does sound like a case where the LW has built up this narrative in her head about this work decision and how it fits with her life goals, and has now slammed into the reality that it’s not feasible from a business perspective, which for the company is what counts.

    2. Maggie*

      Yeah to me it sounds like they weren’t asked if she or he can still work there. Just told that OP was taking a trip to California.

    3. djc*

      I wouldn’t put down a deposit or make unchangeable plans to move to a new location without first clearing it with my company.

  14. Double A*

    I live in California, I love California, and part of the reason I love it is that we do have more protections and benefits than many other states. However, this comes with more rules and red tape that makes it more complicated to set up a nexus here. I would never assume you could just work remotely from California if that’s new to your company. I know some companies who are pushing out California remote workers because it’s a pain to meet all our requirements. Which some people in our state will argue is a reason not to have so many laws and protections, but I am not convinced by that.

    1. iglwif*

      Seems like a reason to extend those protections and benefits to the other 48 states to me …

      (I live in Canada, so I have no horse in this race, but the stuff some of my US coworkers have to put up with seems BANANAS to me; California seems way more normal.)

      1. Justin*

        Yes, the two states that are being cited here as “very expensive to set up in” (CA and NY) also have some of the best worker protections, so…..

      2. Anita, Darling*

        Really disagree with this. Nothing is free. Revenues and profits aren’t infinite, and regulatory costs aren’t negligible when they add up. Higher cost of doing business and higher regulation means less business, fewer jobs, more outsourcing and cutting of corners in other ways.

        It also disproportionately harms smaller, poorer-capitalized enterprises, favoring further consolidated, large corporations with lots of money and regulatory connections at the expense of new-comers, upstarts, independently owned enterprises, which is in my opinion a general net bad.

        1. Clobberin' Time*

          “But how can small businesses thrive if they aren’t allowed to exploit their employees?” is not a winning pitch tbh.

        2. Lydia*

          Yeah, there are definitely not any small businesses all over California and New York.

          This is a really bad take. Protecting workers helps all businesses, not just the big ones.

        3. Phryne*

          Yeah, which is why Northern European countries, with their strong employee protection laws, is so economically unsuccessful / s

          Even a small look outside of the US will show you reality just does not bear this kind of thinking out.

    2. Observer*

      Which some people in our state will argue is a reason not to have so many laws and protections, but I am not convinced by that.

      I’m seeing a lot of comments to this effect. And I think that it’s an interesting discussion.

      But ultimately it’s totally irrelevant to the OP. If no one else in the company works in CA, then setting things up to allow them to work there is going to be legitimately expensive – even if the company itself were located in NYC,which has its own set of higher than typical requirements. And that’s a legitimate reason for the company to say no.

      That’s the key thing the OP needs to understand.

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Short story but in 1990 I moved to California and managed to get a job with my same company (another division). I actually had to quit my job in my home state, and start work in California within 30 days to be rehired in California. It was an issue even back then!

      I’m sorry OP. Maybe you can move to a different state your company could setup.

    4. Middle generation millennial*

      I do a lot of business with California based companies. While it is great that they have so many safeguards and protections in place, it is extremely difficult to navigate their rules and requirements. Tedious AF.

  15. Katrine Fonsmark*

    My company has had more and more people asking to go fully remote, and about 20% of the company is remote now (including me!). We were just told a couple of weeks ago that no requests to work remotely from the following states will be considered: California, New York, Texas, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Alaska and Hawaii make sense to me because of travel expenses (we all go into the office about 3 times a year), and CA and NY I know have more onerous rules, but I was surprised about Texas – does anyone know why Texas would be a problem? My company is located in Chicago if that matters.

      1. Katrine Fonsmark*

        That doesn’t really make sense – there are a lot of other states where the politics are similar. Our HR referenced “new or expanded employment legislation” so it is specifically not about politics anyway.

        1. Tect*

          I think it is abortion. Probably because health care is tied to employers. I think Texas legislature passed a law that they could prosecute anyone if they knew or somehow assisted with an abortion. Meaning, that even an Uber driver dropping someone off to an airport to fly to another state (for a termination/medical care that could result in a termination) could be caught up in all of this.

          It’s all theoretical because nobody has brought a case yet, but the law is extraordinarily vague. And nobody wants to test it.

          1. HoundMom*

            Texas already required to offer medical plans that each individual employee had the option to elect into — one that included elective abortions and one did not. It is a ton of paperwork and a conversation no one wants to have at work.

        2. Clobberin' Time*

          Texas has opened up bounties and aggressive prosecution of business they think might be assisting employees in getting an abortion. That’s a liability risk that makes California look like an employer’s paradise by comparison.

    1. Esmeralda W.*

      They probably just don’t currently have a nexus in Texas (hey! That rhymes!) and aren’t interested in doing the needed set-up. The other statutes are probably also more related to that factor than travel expenses, etc.

      1. Katrine Fonsmark*

        We currently only have employees in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, so we don’t have a nexus in 43 other states. Texas just seems like a weird one to single out.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Could be specific licensing related to your field of work. There are states in which we will not even attempt to do work due to field specific licensing requirements.

    3. Patent*

      An employee living in Texas can open the company up to patent litigation in the Eastern District of Texas, something some companies want to avoid because of how it gets handled there

    4. Gracely*

      I wonder if it’s because of Texas mostly being on its own electrical grid (except for that one town, Laredo? El Paso?) and the risks associated with that? Maybe? Though it the abortion/healthcare/lawsuit mess they have going on there might also be why.

      Or someone at your company really wants to forget the Alamo?

    5. Middle generation millennial*

      Texas has some weird restrictions and penalties on the financial side, so it’s possible politics isn’t relevant

  16. PeopleOps*

    It’s not that they are writing a policy just to mess with you, but there are all kinds of implications for a company when they have employees who don’t work in the home state of the company. They can be on the hook for additional tax liability to that state, as an example, even for just one employee in residence. And California has an entire host of employment law that if you aren’t an expert in it it’s very difficult to ensure compliance. If they were deciding to let others work from California and not you, that’s one thing. But being with a company that went through this, and wanting to support employees, we couldn’t really make it work in some cases. I’m sorry that’s happening, but especially with CA there are loads of legit reasons a non-CA company wouldn’t go there.

  17. Risha*

    I felt where you were coming from until your last few sentences. Do you think because you’re over 40 you’ll be allowed to do whatever you want? Being in a protected class doesn’t mean you can do things other employees aren’t able to. If you tried to sue, what exactly would it be for? If they allow people under 40 to live in Cali but not you then I think you would have a case. However, it seems like they won’t let anyone work from Cali so I don’t know what the courts will accomplish. I’m over 40 too and I would like to take 2 hour breaks, can I sue my employer so they have to let me take long breaks? Age discrimination (and other types as well) are very real in many companies, threatening to sue (or even only thinking about it) just because they won’t let you move is insulting to those who have truly been discriminated against due to age/race/gender/etc.

    It sounds to me that your manager looked into it, probably even asked others and realized this isn’t possible. I’m very sorry for the losses you suffered and I hope you can find peace and healing. But moving to another state is something you should have checked on before making those plans. I also think your manager should have clarified with the company prior to giving you their “blessing”. I live in NJ and work in NY, which is very common here, but I’m sure other states are a tax nightmare for companies. You seem like you have lots of experience and a lot of offer a company, so perhaps you can find another job that will let you work in Cali, or even a remote job that’s headquartered in Cali.

    1. Banana*

      I am sure they don’t think they can do whatever they want due to their age. It’s weird and jarring to get encouragement to do something from your leadership one moment, and then get told you can’t do it later, especially when you have your heart set on it as much as the LW seems to. In those circumstances, it’s normal to feel as if you’re being unfairly treated, and the next logical step for some people can be wondering whether the perceived unfair treatment is based in discrimination. All the reasons why working in a new state can be a minefield aren’t readily apparent to everyone, especially when working remotely is so prevalent now!

  18. Olivia*

    The boss definitely screwed them over by not looking into it before saying it was okay. But the OP acknowledges that having remote workers in California presents complications for employers. It is not unreasonable to deny this request, just really irresponsible and careless with your employee’s livelihood to not look into it before suggesting that it might be okay.

    But the part about age discrimination? Uh, no. I am not sure where they got the idea that anti-discrimination law makes them specially entitled to get whatever they want, but that is not at all how the law works. They would be well-advised not to mention anything like that to any coworkers, because it makes them sound really entitled. Unless the company is letting employees under 40 work in California, there is nothing they can do to “make” their employer change their policy. That’s not how any of this works. Honestly that last part was really off-putting.

    1. M2*

      The LW wrote

      “I felt the need for a change of scenery and told the entire executive team that I was going to California to see if I wanted to live there. They all encouraged me to do so and I worked remotely during my month-long test.”

      It sounds like the LW didn’t ask permission and instead just went to California. When the boss realized the LW wanted to move to CA told them it was not possible.

      I really don’t understand why people think if they are remote they can work from anywhere. Someone I know was just fired because they moved overseas and didn’t tell their company (the company made clear in their policy what states and countries employees were allowed to live and you always had to inform them / get clearance first)!

      For the LW if moving to California is something you need start applying for roles there. Good luck!

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        “I really don’t understand why people think if they are remote they can work from anywhere.”

        Because they’re unaware of all the potential issues. They don’t know what they don’t know. Before the pandemic, most people didn’t know. I only know because I read this blog. It’s never come up for me. That’s not a character flaw.

    2. urguncle*

      The boss didn’t say “ok, you’re welcome to move there,” the executive team agreed to a trial period, during which time I imagine, they did the due diligence of figuring out what employing someone in California looked like. The employee could have come back and hated it. They could have quit their job or have been actively looking for a job local to California. There didn’t seem to be any obligation or “screwing-over.” The employee took the risk of really liking California and the employer decided the cost of doing business there was more than they wanted to pay for a single employee. It sucks she put money down on an apartment before getting clearance to work, but that’s a risk that she took.

      1. BL73*

        This. The could have assumed she planned to quit if she liked it to work for a local company. As a manager, I’m not sure I’d ask about the plans – what if something came up with the employee’s work and I had to manage that, and they said it was because they told me they might quit if they liked CA? This employee assumed too much and got caught out.

  19. KatEnigma*

    When my husband was hired to a permanent remote job, they verified that they could employ him in that State (ND. We created the new nexus.) But they also made it clear to him then and at various points as company wide bulletins during the pandemic that any employee who wanted to move States, unless it was California or Colorado, the company hubs, had to follow X procedure to get permission to move from HR before they moved. We had to get it before we moved to Texas. Even though we know of other employees here.

    If LW’s company didn’t already have this rule (she didn’t know about it, but who reads all the onboarding literature?) they were foolish. They have corrected that mistake.

  20. wondering*

    Also – please correct me if I’m wrong – but if you have a retirement plan (but not a Roth type) of some sort with that company, doesn’t working in California at some point obligate you to later (when you start withdrawing the money) pay part of the taxes due to the state of California? At their rates?

    1. ZSD*

      I believe when you retire and start withdrawing your tax-deferred savings, you pay income taxes in the state where you live at the time of retirement/withdrawal, not where you lived when you earned the money. It’s one reason people move to Florida when they retire: no state income taxes.

  21. heretoday*

    California (and many cities within) have different laws governing work being performed in the state, regardless of where the company is based. I had a hell of a time getting my company to accept that for my work in Cali anything over 8 hours a day is time-and-a-half. I finally had to show them the city ordnance from San Diego and the google map location of the remote office before I could get my money.

  22. addiez*

    OP, I’m sorry to say, but your pick of California is probably one of the worst options for an employer so if they don’t already have a nexus there it’s very unlikely you’re going to change their minds.

  23. I should really pick a name*

    Also, I am of an age that is a protected class, but I have loved this company and I’m not a litigious person so I don’t want to invoke the law to make them let me do this

    This would not help you in any way. It would only be meaningful if they were preventing you from working in California BECAUSE you’re 40+ years old.

  24. Nicole Dey*

    I understand that you get some sort of revenue stream from redirecting readers to these online magazines.. but it’s frustrating. They won’t let you read your response unless you pay/subscribe.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      There’s no point in complaining about this, especially every single time she puts a pay link up. Either you pay up or you just don’t read it. That’s life with our current state of the Internet.

      1. word nerd*

        Agreed. Especially since she provides a *ton* of free content here. Not that she’s obligated to of course, but I am very grateful for that!

    2. ...*

      “They won’t let me take a magazine at the store unless I pay for it…”

      If you don’t want to pay what someone charges for their work, you don’t get to read it. There’s lots of free content here too.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Tons and tons of free content, often covering similar issues and going back years. These complaints are really not helpful or supportive of Alison, who has provided so much good advice that being shut out of three letters a week is frustrating.

    3. allornone*

      I admit I’ve been frustrated myself (I work in the non-profit industry; I can’t afford multiple subscriptions to sites where I only read Alison’s articles), but I also can’t really blame her. She provides so much to us for free (heck, I’d probably be still in retail without her, and thus even more broke, and lacking job satisfaction to boot), that if I have to miss an occasional answer, eh.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I don’t know if Alison has considered it, but maybe she could set up a Patreon and put content that is normally behind paywalls there. It would still require monetary support, but you would specifically be supporting Alison and have access to that extra content. I’m not sure how that would work with her agreements with those publications, but it’s worth a thought.

        1. allornone*

          That might be a good thought. I know I’d support her on Patreon, but like you suggested, there might be more to it than we know.

        2. Andy*

          that’s probably a conflict w her contracts w those publications…who purchased her work so they could charge ppl to read it.

    4. Ferret*

      Yes it is frustrating when people refuse to do 100% of their work for free instead of 90% How dare Alison try and get paid a bit more for her labour! Doesn’t she know that our desire to read every word for free supersedes her need to make a living?

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      “Some sort of revenue stream”= Alison’s payment for her work. This blog is free. Some of her work is not free. You can decide whether to purchase it or not.

    6. LawBee*

      I’ve never hit a paywall with the NYT but I only read a couple of articles there a month. If you’re reading more, maybe you should accept that you’re an NYT reader and subscribe? Or not, whatever works for you and your budget etc. but I’m ok with Alison getting paid for her work.

      1. Hibiscus*

        It’s New York Magazine, not the NYTIMES. And I have to say, it’s an excellent purchase if you need a lot of small dopamine bursts during the day.

    7. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Consider seeing if your local library maintains subscriptions to some of the magazines/sites Alison links to – you might find that they have an institutional login that would let you read the article.

    8. KatEnigma*

      I have never, not once, been stopped from reading her paid columns and have no subscriptions… So are you using up your free views on other things and then complaining here?

      1. allornone*

        I’ve been stopped before on Inc and I know I only read Alison’s stuff there, but then, maybe me accidentally scrolling down too far into the next article is why that happens. Regardless, where Alison writes is her right. Can’t fault someone for getting paid for their content, especially when they post so much for free.

        1. GythaOgden*

          NY Magazine letters also get reprinted here after a certain length of time. I don’t know how long that is, but if a magazine is paying for it, then she owes them some time for them to make use of the content exclusively.

        2. Bee*

          I think Inc used to give 5 free articles in a month and has recently changed it so I do hit the cap halfway through the month even only reading Alison’s stuff. Which is annoying – I’d love it if they allowed me to pay like a dollar to read just one article – but yeah, can’t fault anyone here.

    9. Bernice Clifton*

      I am almost positive Alison answered a reader question in the same situation a few years ago – you can probably search for it.

  25. MI Dawn*

    I have, for family reasons, worked remotely in a different state for a week or two. Never long enough to establish any kind of residency (which, in most cases, requires a month-long stay in the state). So it hasn’t impacted my employer. While my managers/higher ups were aware of my absence, I’m very sure HR didn’t know.

    On the other hand, my employer does have specific states (hello, tri-state area!) you can live and work in. And a few weird off-shoots because of the number of employees in the area (snowbirds know who they are…). But I’ve never worked for a long period out of my home state.

    1. Zee*

      Employer: we accidentally did an illegal thing, so to fix it we’re purposefully doing a more illegal thing (re-classifying regular employees as contractors).

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        The employer didn’t do an illegal thing, though. Their employee was working in other states without informing the company.

  26. She of Many Hats*

    I’m guessing the protected status comment stemmed from the LW’s perception where they saw other out-of-state moves by other, younger colleagues with no pushback but not realizing the new remote locations were places the employer already had a nexus or there were no financial impositions that impacted the employer.

    Unfortunately, management handled this less adroitly than they could have and with inadequate communication.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      “Unfortunately, management handled this less adroitly than they could have and with inadequate communication.”

      I feel like this phrase could be accurately applied to 99% of the things my organization’s management has handled in the last 3+ years, hahaha.

  27. Wendy*

    As a tax professional I feel the impact when we hire someone in a new state or someone moves there. We’re in like 42 states – can’t we leave it like that? I just keep hoping one day payroll doesn’t say “we hired somebody in Canada – any issues?” smh…..

    1. urguncle*

      Currently going through this in the EU to find someone. We’ve apparently interviewed or employed all of the Llama Coordinators in one small EU country, so now I get to interview people in Finland and then be disappointed by HR/Legal when we can’t find a proxy employer.

  28. southernfried*

    It’s past time for employers to take the initiative to explain this issue to their employees. I can understand why people think “working remotely” means they can work anywhere. And that just is not true–and it’s not because your employer is trying to be a jerk. They have legitimate reasons for limiting where remote workers can reside.

    1. Tuesday*

      Definitely. I’m sure all of us AAM regulars know all about it by now, but otherwise I would 100% have assumed it didn’t matter!

  29. Brain the Brian*

    I wish more companies would be open and honest with employees about the expenses and tax implications of having remote employees based in other states. It obviously influences thinking among leadership, but so many execs just spew BS about “wanting a company culture based in shared values” or some other such nonsense to justify in-office work requirements. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a lot more likely to be empathetic with “There are a lot of legal and tax implications if we have employees based in other states — especially these few” than “We just don’t like it when people work far afield.”

    1. Llama Event Planner*

      I agree! My company is always spouting BS about company culture. I would be far more empathetic to nitty gritty detail reasons than all the fluff.

    2. PsychNurse*

      ABSOLUTELY. So many of the problems at my former job just came down to things not being explained, and when they weren’t explained, the paranoid started rumors.

      It isn’t hard to tell people (as individuals, or for that matter just send out an email to everyone) that say that because of regulatory and tax issues, you have to be in-state when you work. Ta-da.

    3. Brain the Brian*

      I will add here that this also extends to requirements to work part of the week in-office even for those living locally. My company is a US government contractor, and we can only be reimbursed for the portion of our office allocated to a given USG program if the staff who work on that program actually sit at their desk for part of the week. Otherwise, the office is considered “vacant” and the USG won’t reimburse us for that share of our office costs; meanwhile, our landlords won’t let us out of leases so we can downsize. All of which I think employees would be much more likely to understand than nonsense about “culture.”

  30. Lacey*

    Everyone thinks that because I’m remote I can move just anywhere, but my employer only operates in two states. I can move anywhere in those two states.

    1. Tuesday*

      I think that part of this is also the sort of “remote work” messaging that’s glamorized on social media – “you can work from anywhere! like Dubai, or the beach!” In reality I guess that only applies to contract work? Or just never staying in one place for very long?

      1. I need a new name...*

        ‘Digital Nomads’ are a whole separate kettle of fish. I’m acquainted with a few and they still tend to stay in one place per contract. I don’t know the ins and outs of how it works though.

  31. HoundMom*

    Texas already required to offer medical plans that each individual employee had the option to elect into — one that included elective abortions and one did not. It is a ton of paperwork and a conversation no one wants to have at work.

  32. LadyCFO*

    I struggle to understand why OP put down a deposit without even discussing the option to relocate with their employer … and THEN hint at suing because they are age protected. Huh?!
    OP was extremely narrow sighted not realizing that employers must be compliant in every state in which they have employees.
    I work in CA – we’re a big old hassle for employers!

    1. Water Snake*

      OP did discuss the option with their employer, and they were enthusiastic:

      [I] told the entire executive team that I was going to California to see if I wanted to live there. They all encouraged me to do so and I worked remotely during my month-long test.

      I can see how they are feeling baited and switched.

      1. Tuesday*

        Yeah, for sure. I can see how this whole thing happened, but the “hm, let’s look into that” conversation really should have happened when OP announced their intentions, not after.

      2. JM60*

        In the employer’s defense, it was only a temporary trial/trip at the time they responded enthusiastically. They may have started to look at the legal implications during that trial, thinking that the OP would check with them first before deciding whether or not to permanently move there. They probably should’ve told her from the outset that they’d need to look into the legal implications before they’d approve a permanent change, but I think the biggest mess up in this situation was on the OP’s part when they put a deposit on an apartment before verifying with the employer if they could work from another state permanently.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          All of this. At no point was OP explicitly told, “Yes, it’s fine for you to move to California and continue remote work from there.” They were enthusiastic about her trial period there, probably because they understood why she needed a change of scenery and sympathized, but once they completed their investigation into the feasibility of this idea, they realized it wouldn’t work for them. There was no bait and switch here – the OP jumped the gun.

          1. What name did I use last time?*

            Because OP mentioned her age, I wonder whether her employer thought she was dropping a big hint that she planned to RETIRE to California in that first conversation, when she told (not asked) them about her plan to take a month’s working holiday.

  33. Llama Event Planner*

    Tangent question (and please forgive me if it’s already been asked or discussed somewhere, I 100% could have missed it): But what about companies that already have a nexus setup in all 50 states? It seems to be a case by case, department by department basis at my company as to who gets to move and work remotely and who doesn’t – regardless of job.

    1. doreen*

      Do they have employees in all 50 states or just sales tax nexus? Sales tax nexus can be established by having a certain dollar amount in sales in a state or more than a certain number of transactions even if there are no employees and no physical presence in that state.

      1. Llama Event Planner*

        As far as I’m aware, we have employees that live and work in 49 of the states. I’m not sure about Alaska or if we just have a person travel there occasionally.

    2. Observer*

      There are different levels. And also nexus is not the only issue. You can have a nexus but not have employees that you need to deal with. And that can make a real difference.

    3. Middle generation millennial*

      That’s usually when companies advertise “in X state doing business as ABC company” depending on the state and the industry. Or franchising

  34. Observer*

    I’m not a litigious person so I don’t want to invoke the law to make them let me do this.

    This jumped out at me. You say that you are not litigious, but your first instinct is to invoke the law. That’s quite interesting.

    Also, what law do you think it being broken here? You may be in a protected class. But that doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want. It only means that you are protected from DISCRIMINATION. Like if they fire you because of your age or they refuse to let YOU work in CA, while they allow a younger worker to work there (ie they are refusing permission because of your age.) If they refuse for other reasons, even stupid ones, there is simply no legal issue involved. Given that it’s actually NOT a stupid reason, you’re wasting your time.

    1. PsychNurse*

      Yeah, this person seems to think that because they are 40+, their company has to let them do whatever they want. They are barking up the wrong tree with that.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah, I’m wondering if LW’s recent losses and desire for a change are clouding their professional vision a bit. This is unfortunate and LW’s manager was sloppy to not look into the possibility of LW moving to CA when LW told them initially and not after LW had invested so much time and energy into it, but it’s not something LW can legally fight. It sounds like LW’s company realized it would be quite costly for them or would bring legal obligations they don’t want. Unless there’s more to this letter, LW’s company isn’t discriminating against LW in any way.

  35. MissPickles2022*

    I got a new job with my company and they accidentally put me in a different office location from the one I was originally assigned, and I didn’t catch it until the second paycheck, where I saw taxes from a different state being taken out. I haven’t even been to the location where they had me assigned, and now apparently I need to file taxes for a full year with another state. I’ve never even done taxes for a state different than my own before. Guess I’ll be paying turbotax some extra money for my 2022 taxes.

    1. Hippo with a Hat*

      If you never actually worked from that other state, then you should be able to get those taxes back.

      1. MissPickles2022*

        I hope so. I certainly did not go in to that office. Its almost 4 hours one way to that location from where I live. I barely go into my new office location since its almost 2 hours one way. Unfortunately, the location I was working at is closing, so thank goodness for remote friendly jobs and remote friendly bosses.

  36. Choggy*

    What I don’t understand is how this works in my company. An employee decided to move to another state during Covid and was forced to resign. Another employee moved to a different state and is working remotely except for a few times a year when they come back to our office. Neither state has a company presence, yet one remained employed while the other could not. Of course, I don’t know all the background, but the optics of the situation are very poor.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      There could be a variety of reasons for that.
      Maybe they already had a nexus in one state because of a previous employee.
      Maybe one employee asked and the other one just moved without warning.
      Maybe they felt that one employee was worth the trouble, but the other one wasn’t.

      1. Anonymous Professor*

        Yeah, it could easily be the second one. I had a colleague move during COVID when my university was fully remote for a year and tell the university so; they were able to set things up for them. Another person moved without warning anyone (and in fact went radio silent for months on email and wasn’t responding to their students) and it turned out they’d moved to the other side of the country and just expected the employer to somehow make things work. They didn’t have tenure and were summarily fired.

        I also had a more recent colleague move to Romania from the US, which I talked about in another thread, and who ended up resigning because there was no way our US university was going to figure things out for them to teach remotely from Romania.

    2. Observer*

      There are a lot of possibilities.

      For one thing, not having an obvious presence is not the same as not having a nexus. For another, it could be that the company already had someone in the second state so they were already set up for it. Or maybe one state has rules that are more company friendly than the other state. Or maybe the positions are different enough, that it could make a difference.

      I seem to recall one letter quite a while ago where the issue of licensing came up- apparently one state’s licensing requirements were such that it would be problematic for the person to do their work while in that state.

    3. Aitch Arr*

      The requirements (and costs!) for nexus vary by state.
      So it may have made sense for the employer to establish nexus in one state but not the other.

  37. Megan*

    Same here. That was a mistake by OP to put down a deposit before confirming it works for the company to have her move and work from this new location.

  38. Texas milspouse*

    Any idea if this is the same for spouses of active duty service members? Obviously our physical residence changes, but we retain a “home of record” where we pay taxes even when we’re not currently residing there. I currently live in Texas, so if I remained a Texas resident when we move again but wanted to work remotely, I wonder if that would still require them to set up the nexus in whichever state I’m in. I assume so because it seems to be based on physical location, rather than on-paper residence, but I wonder.

    1. Hippo with a Hat*

      It’s a question of where you perform the work, not where you live, either for real or on paper.

  39. ZucchiniBikini*

    Even in Australia (where I live), where income and sales tax is regulated and levied federally rather than by the states, most employers will not allow remote workers to move interstate without prior permission, because there are other employment regulatory differences between our states (some minor, some not so minor). However, it’s rare for such permission to be denied if there are reasonable business grounds for it, as the cost burden of doing business in different Australian states is negligible, especially now the states have harmonised their payroll tax regimes. It’s more that you have to ask, which triggers the employer to do the due diligence about any additional or different reporting that might be required.

    I fully appreciate that in the US, this is significantly more complicated, and while it’s disappointing for the LW, I can’t see that her company is at fault here. Once they did what they should do (properly investigated), they worked out it would not be feasible for them to operate in California. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.

    1. ZucchiniBikini*

      I should have said, our basic conditions of work are also regulated federally via our Fair Work Act, which applies in every state, so there is not any variation in entitlements, minimum wage levels etc across states. It is the federal model that provides our entitlement to 20 days paid recreation (annual) leave, 10 days paid personal (sick / carer’s) leave, paid parental leave (quantum about to be increased). However, long service leave, which is the block leave that Australian employees receive after a set period of continuous service, is regulated by the states, and can vary, so that is one thing employers do look at with interstate work. In my state (Victoria), you can take LSL anytime from 7 years of employment and it’s calculated at a rate where you earn 1 week of LSL for every 60 weeks worked, so at 7 years, you are entitled to take 6 weeks off at full pay. Other states have different calculation models and slightly different results.

  40. CLC*

    It’s a tax issue. Employees of my company are only allowed to live in certain states. It’s fairly common.

  41. Quickbeam*

    I worked for a regional company with satellites in 10 states. You could move to any of those states. There were significant tax and legal issues for working in any other state.

  42. I need a new name...*

    ‘ told the entire executive team that I was going to California to see if I wanted to live there’

    If this is an accurate representation of what you communicated and there was no mention of ‘and continue to be employed by you’ then I’m willing to give that management team a lot more slack.

    I was also *very* surprised that you put down a deposit on anything before confirming your decision to move with your employer.

    It doesn’t sound like anything malicious happened here; just a lot of poor communication and unfortunate assumptions.

  43. Reyna*

    Ugh, it’s gross of the LW to try to spin this into an age discrimination case so she can sue over a completely reasonable policy

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I do not think I would call it gross so much as misguided. I think she does not really understand and thinks there is something there that just … isn’t there.

      The policy is reasonable and not ageist unless we have some seriously significant hidden information (in which case, way to bury the lede). And I cannot see that anyone expressly told her that it was allowed or ok; more that they did not indicate that is wasn’t ok. But I do think the company should have looked into it earlier, as soon as she made it clear she was seriously considering the move. I am sure they just did not realize they needed to until it was further along than they had expected. But I think they do owe OP an apology for not looking into it sooner, and honestly, they should be explaining the reasons for it too since OP put a deposit down and everything.

  44. Llama Event Planner*

    Might be too late and I may need to repost on Friday – but some of the discussion got me thinking of a question for those who would know:

    For those places where it’s like a tri-state area and the states have a reciprocity agreement – that’s for the whole state right? Or do they do that by counties? So if I wanted to move within my state – where they already have other offices & employees, I should be able to move anywhere in the state b/c of the agreement? Or is it really limited to those counties where they have an office?

    Genuinely curious and didn’t know.

  45. Jessica Fletcher*

    So many deeply rude assumptions in the comments! OP doesn’t think being over 40 means she can do anything she wants. There’s no evidence of that. She’s providing that info in case the expert she’s written to finds it relevant.

    OP had no reason to automatically think she wouldn’t be able to continue in her job if she moved to California. Most people don’t know the details of interstate employment law. Her company had no policy to inform her about this. She didn’t secretly relocate. She was very open about everything. Every step of the way, her company supported her and made her believe she could do this. Then, after she put down a housing deposit, THEN they say she can’t do it.

    The company treated her really badly. And they don’t seem to have apologized and acknowledged how deeply they messed up OP’s life. She spent a ton of money, maintaining two residences for a month, travel costs, now an apartment and probably utility deposits, based on their ok. And now she’s either out of a job, right when she’s assumed these new expenses (probably much more expensive than in her company’s home state), or she’s out all the money she spent in California, including all her deposits. And they’ve seriously damaged, if not ruined, the relationship with her.

    The company seriously erred here. If she stays in-state, they should reimburse for her significant losses. If they don’t, she should consult an attorney to see if she has a civil case to recoup those costs.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      The company erred here, but they likely also did not know the implications until it got closer to reality. Also, speaking of assumptions, the post doesn’t say they told her that it was ok, just that they did not object or anything. It is still problematic either way, but a lack of no is not the same as a yes, and OP probably should have waited to a definite yes before putting a deposit on an apartment. It is unfortunate and the company should apologize, but I do not think they are as terrible as you are saying.

      As far as the age, she did not bring it up as a “is my age potentially relevant” or “could this be age discrimination?” question. She specifically said “Also, I am of an age that is a protected class, but I have loved this company and I’m not a litigious person so I don’t want to invoke the law to make them let me do this.” That implies that she thinks she could invoke the law and would prefer not to, and it is hard to see why she would think that.

      If anyone was rude (I cannot say I have read all the comments), then that is not ok, but I do think you made a few assumptions too and that the assumptions about the age discrimination are mostly reasonable due to the phrasing by the OP.

  46. LT*

    I had a similar issue recently where I was considering working for a month out of California, or even just visiting for a week to work remotely. I’ve done that in Maine and DC for a week each without issue, but I noticed my company’s policy explicitly excluded California as well as US territories from its list of places employees were allowed to work from, even if on a super-short term basis. It didn’t completely surprise me that of all places it would be California with the various regulations it has, but it did leave me wondering about some of the specifics as to why. Alison’s response shed a lot of light on that!

Comments are closed.