One of the messages during a storm is to stay off the roads. If you did that and missed work because of it, what rights do you have to keep your boss from retaliating?
As a snowstorm pummeled North Carolina, the governor was the one sounding that very warning:
“Snow and ice will make road hazardous,” Roy Cooper said. “Plan to stay off the roads when the snow and ice starts.”
It was a message reiterated by numerous public safety officials as the snow, and later ice, covered roadways across North Carolina.
Despite the storm, some people in non-emergency jobs felt compelled to travel on the highways to get into work.
“I felt obligated to go,” Thomas Rackley said. “I think being faithful to my employer is a good idea even if it means risking my life in a storm.”
But, not everyone wanted to go to work in the storm and some worried about repercussions. One viewer wrote the following to CBS 17 consumer reporter Steve Sbraccia saying:
I wanted to know what are the rights of employees when it comes to inclement weather and reporting into work? When the Governor, department of transportation, police, fire department, etc. all say stay off the roads (are)..there any rights on…(the)…employee side that can back them up if they refuse to show up?
As it turns out, when bad weather hits, employees are on their own.
Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry said in an email: “The Commissioner of Labor does not have the legal authority to intervene in a private employer’s decision to require an employee to report to work during inclement weather.”
Quesenberry said that’s because North Carolina is at “at will” state regarding employment. That means “there are currently no laws in North Carolina regarding employment and weather-related emergencies, which the Commissioner of Labor has any legal authority to enforce.”
So yes, unless an employee has a contract with the employer outlining a specific time period of the employment, the employer can legally terminate that person for any reason, or no reason at all.