Am I able to sue and win if I was fired for calling off work due to a State of Emergency?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Am I able to sue and win if I was fired for calling off work due to a State of Emergency?

Recently there was a hurricane that hit my state. I commute to my job as a waitress at a strip club, roughly 40 miles there and the same amount back. Leaving work the night of the storm, the roads were already terrible due to standing water. The next morning I had to leave for work by 10 am; our flash flood warning had just ended at 9:30 am and the damages throughout the night caused trees and powerlines down all over. We were in a blackout for most of 2 days in many areas. Some of which still have no power and it’s 3 days later. The route that I take was blocked by downed trees and too risky for me to take my car through the debris and mud; I watched trucks struggle to get through it in front of me. I called my manager and turned around. His response when I told him my route was blocked was,

Asked on October 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

As unfair as it may sound, when it comes to an employee who commutes, unless a business agreed that the weather was too bad for its workers to attempt the drive in, an employee can be fired for not finding a way to make it into work. This even includes if a state of emergency has been declared. While unfair, it is the law. The fact is that most employment arrangements are what is known as "at will", which means that an employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. The only exceptions are if the employee has protection under a union agreement or employment contract. Also, their treatment must not be due to some form of leglly actionable discrimination or retaliation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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