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A Houston meteorologist had strong words for employers who fired workers for not showing up to work during the area's recent severe flooding.
"We are going to kick somebody's behind if they fire you because you didn't head out on a deadly flooded street," Fox 26 meteorologist Mike Iscovitz said during a news broadcast Monday.
Heavy rain has fallen in the Houston area for several days, causing record flooding and killing at least seven people. Iscovitz said many employees might risk travelling in the severe weather because they were afraid of losing their jobs, but that it wasn't worth the risk.
"I mean, it's crazy. and I know a lot of people have that fear, but you can't -- would you rather risk getting fired or, you know, drowning?" he said. "If anybody got fired because they didn't go out to work in this: call us. Call me, call [reporter] Emily Akin, call our news desk, and we will expose that person on the air in front of millions of people and embarrass them. I will do that. I'm serious."
Fox 26 also reported that it received e-mails from viewers who said their employer was forcing them to use vacation time on days they were unable, or unwilling, to come into work due to the severe flooding.
When should employees come to work during severe weather?
Requiring Employees to Come to Work in Snow Often OK
Think twice before requiring your employees to come to work during a snow or ice storm: Companies can require workers to report to work unless a governmental order bans travel, such as the one that was instituted in New York City during the blizzard of 2016. But employers may face a negligence or wrongful death lawsuit if an employee is involved in an accident while in transit.
Majority of Workers Expected to Be Present During Severe Weather
More than half of employees surveyed (55 percent) said they were expected to show up to work during severe weather conditions, even though half of those said they felt unsafe doing so, according to Staples’ fourth annual safety survey in honor of National Safety Month in June 2015.
Inclement Weather Poses FLSA Challenges
When work closes because of inclement weather, exempt and nonexempt employees are treated differently under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), management attorneys note.
Inclement-Weather Policies Help Employers in Stormy Seasons
Companies that make their open-and-closed policies clear for inclement-weather seasons—such as snowy winters and falls full of hurricanes—can keep employees informed, instead of in the dark.
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