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Can a worker be fired for not reporting to work during a hurricane?

Ben Steelman

Apparently no general law or regulation protects employees from termination during a storm or other natural disaster, according to Robert B. Joyce, the Hinnant professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Most employees are at-will employees, meaning that they can be fired for any reason or no reason or a bad reason,” Joyce said. “If the employer thinks the weather is good enough to come to work and the employee doesn’t, the employer can fire the employee for failing to come in. That’s the general law.”

Fortunately, Joyce said, most bosses can be counted upon to use common sense and won’t fire employees for refusing to risk life and limb.

Private companies are encouraged to have an adverse-weather policy, noted Dolores Quesenberry, communications director for the N.C. Department of Labor, but they are not required to have one. Also, in most cases, companies are not required to pay workers for time lost due to adverse weather.

Here’s a link to a state Department of Labor web page on adverse weather: http://www.nclabor.com/wh/fact%20sheets/adverse.htm

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One Response to “ Can a worker be fired for not reporting to work during a hurricane?”

  1. On August 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm lostmygig wrote:

    I was fired for asking the day before the storm if I could leave early if necessary.
    Instead of listening to my request, I was told I was done.
    BTW, this was a once a week job that could have been done at any time.