Tuesday, January 27, 2015

S'now Joke: You are Fired for "Bad Weather"

Many of you in the Northeast may be snowed in or facing hazardous travel conditions (we here  in South Carolina typically don't have to worry about that).  So if you are enjoying a Snow day off, you might contemplate whether or not there could be any potential employment issues if you are unable to get to work due to poor weather conditions.  Basically, the question arises as to whether an employer can fire you for not showing up to work where the roads are  hazardous, or even where the state has imposed travel bans.  It does present interesting employment law questions on a number of different fronts, and an article today over at CNN/Fortune looks squarely at this issue. From the article:

“As “Juno,” the so-called Blizzard of 2015, barreled toward the Northeast Monday afternoon, public officials urged workers to stay home. As urgent and dire as those warnings sounded, employers didn’t necessarily have to heed them.”

It's a fun issue to debate, but most employers are generally fairly lenient on these issues. The article takes an interesting look at this topic, and can be a fun topic for classroom debate.

- Joe Seiner


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As the article suggests, unless protected by contract such as a collective bargaining agreement, workers under at-will employment status have no recourse. One arbitrator (David Singer, 126 LA 1057) has ruled (and there are others cited in the decision) that unless the attendance policy includes inclement weather as a "excused" absence, an employee may be "pointed" for missing work due to a winter storm, even if workers are warned to stay off the roads by law enforcement.

Posted by: Joan Hill | Jan 28, 2015 7:17:10 AM

There'd be a case for discharge against public policy.
"A non-emergency, obviously...someone may be stopped at that point. You cannot be on the roads after 11 p.m."

Posted by: A | Jan 29, 2015 12:59:45 PM

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