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Bad Weather May Steals your job!
February 14, 2013

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Employee Rights News You Can Use

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Date February 13, 2013!!

Issue #47

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Article

Bad Weather May Steals your job!

There's no way any employer or employee can be totally prepared for a natural disaster. However, there are some employment laws that each side should be aware of.


If there is a blizzard, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, flood, wildfire or other natural emergency some of the following may affect your employment.

FMLA or the Family Medical Leave Act

I haven't done any statistical research, but I would not be surprised if The FMLA was one of the most used laws used by employees during a natural disaster. For example, after a hurricane or tornado there would unfortunately tend to be more injuries and fatalities.

An employee that qualifies for FMLA may need to care for a spouse, child, parent or even themselves that suffered a serious injury or health condition due to the disaster.


ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act

Another federal employee rights law that immediately comes to my mind. According to ADA guidelines qualified employees may be entitled to a reasonable workplace accommodation by the employer for a physical or emotional impairment as a result of a natural disaster.

The exception would be if the accommodation would impose an undue hardship of the employer.


The NLRB or National Labor Relations Board

The NLRB sets guidelines for labor unions thru the use of collective bargaining agreements. Along with the (OSHA) Occupational Health and Safety Act the NLRB can impose workplace changes on employers. For example, the foundation of a workplace may have become unstable after a tornado. As a result, employees may have the right to refuse to work in conditions they believe are unsafe.

Employees must have a reasonable good faith belief that the work environment is unsafe when refusing to work. Workers remain protected by OSHA and NLRB even if they are ultimately wrong about their workplace safety concerns. However as we will see next in this article.....


Unemployment Insurance

In a lot of states an employee may find herself laid off due to a natural disaster. In many of those situations the employers unemployment insurance account does not get charged. Employees should understand that in those situations the employers unemployment account may also NOT be charged if the employee is terminated for not reporting to work because of a natural disaster.

In a 2005 case in Florida the employee refused to return to work when directed by the employer following hurricane Ivan. Two things happened as a result of this the employee was terminated for misconduct. The Unemployment Appeals referee decided that the employee be denied unemployment benefits, i.e. cash! This decision was overturned and the employee was awarded benefits.

However, the Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission reversed and remanded with instructions in favor of the Unemployment Appeals referees' original denial of unemployment compensation to the employee. In effect the Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission overturned itself!!??!!


DUA or Disaster Unemployment Assistance

DUA is a federal program providing assistance to employees finding themselves unemployed due to a government declared natural disaster. Many states protect most employees with regular unemployment compensation. However, there will be certain kinds of employees that are not normally covered. Examples of those not covered by state unemployment compensation programs would be the self employed, farmers, fishermen and ranchers.



Make sure you have a complete understanding of your company's bad weather or disaster policy natural or otherwise. If there's anything you don't understand or if your employer doesn't have such a policy make sure you try to get written explanation from them.


One tactic that works effectively and unobtrusively is to email your supervisor and/or HR and say something along the lines, "I was wondering what is the company policy concerning attendance after a blizzard, tornado, hurricane?" When they reply they're creating a record for you print and file away ;0)


The moral of this story is every employee should weigh carefully and prepare as best they can for a natural disaster. Whether they will or won't return to work after a natural disaster based on safety and concerns. Also, continue to learn all they can about these and other areas affecting their employee rights. But, that's what I'm here for...right ;0)


Watching your employment back till next time...

Yancey

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Employee Rights Educator, Coach, Trainer, Advocate, Internet Business Presence Consultant
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