Is it legal for an employer to hold you accountable to work while you are under a “state of emergency”, if you are not emergency personal?

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Is it legal for an employer to hold you accountable to work while you are under a “state of emergency”, if you are not emergency personal?

Asked on November 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is completely legal. The declaration of a state of emergency does not prevent a private employer from expecting employees to do their jobs or even show up for work--and if the workers cannot show up to work due, for example, to travel restrictions, the employer may fire them so long as they do not have employment contracts protecting their employment. That is because in the absence of a contract, they are "employees at will" and may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever. And, since they could be fired, the employer could take lesser actions against them at will, too--e.g. demotion; reduce pay; suspend; cut hours; etc.


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