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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 5 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.


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