Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.
What your employer is trying to deal with is a practice known as "moonlighting" (a full time employee's pursuit of work in their off-time hours).
Moonlighting is legal and permissible in California, and an employer cannot prohibit moonlighting. However, an employer can put very small limitations on moonlighting (an employee cannot create a conflict of interest with their moonlighting - so you could not steal clients from your boss on your off hours), this is why your boss has the right to "approve" your off-time employment.
You can take the document to your lawyer, but remember, CA is an "at will" employment state, so your employer does have the right to terminate you. This isn't a protected act or action, and the document they are asking you to sign isn't prohibiting you from engaging in any conduct (they want to approve your moonlighting to ensure it does not conflict, not prohibit it - if I understand your post).
Most employers will allow employees to have an attorney review a document without objection - if yours won't you may have larger problems.
As noted above, the employer is being proactive in wanting to screen non-employment work for conflicts, but not prohibiting it.
This may be a more aggressive approach but it is not necessarily prohibited.This area of law is not entirely settled - but there is some statutory authority that does protect an employee's right to moonlight (so long as it does not conflict with the employer's business).
See this link for a more detailed discussion of these labor code statutes and interpretations by CA labor authorities: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/resources-publication/controlling-lawful-employee-conduct-during-non-working-hours-risky-business
If you do not wish to sign the agreement offered by your employer, you can refuse - but your employer can fire you and you would be left arguing that your employer's contract violated the above statutes (I'm not sure that it does, and there isn't enough case law on the topic to tell you one way or the other - so you would be navigating a new interpretation of these laws with the labor commission). Whether or not you want to pursue this really depends on how risk adverse you are, and what exactly it is that is preventing you from signing the agreement and disclosing your moonlighting employment to your full time employer.