By Sahid Fawaz
You would think that one of the largest hurricanes ever would be a good excuse for missing work.
Well, some employees are not sure that their bosses feel the same way.
"Reddit’s legal advice thread, r/legaladvice, is getting a rare series of requests as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida: Those living in the state are asking if they can be fired for evacuating from the storm.
The 250-plus comment thread includes posts from retailers to hospital workers and provides a window into the extreme expectations employers expect of their employees during a natural disaster. One post from a Florida worker warns that his employer is 'showing no signs of giving us any chance to evacuate,' and that he may lose his job if he skips out on work during Irma. Another thread details an Amazon Warehouse employee asking if they will be fired for evacuating from the region during the storm.
'I’m not going to risk my life for 4 dollars above minimum wage where I count items on a shelf for ten hours a day,' poster u/Digivee told a fellow Redditor.
Meanwhile, nurse u/TomTheNurse shares a troubling story about the way his employer is handling the storm. According to his post, his South Florida hospital is skimping out on paying off-duty staff while on-call. No overtime will be paid outside of nurses’ daily 12-hour shifts, even though the hospital requires employees to remain on the premises during downtime. This is particularly unusual in u/TomTheNurse’s experience, as his former employer paid overtime for staff when they were on location during a hurricane—even when they were not on duty.
'My understanding is that if I am required to be at work, I am required to be paid,' u/TomTheNurse said in his original post. 'I understand [hospital higher-ups] are not obligated to pay us overtime until we actually work more than 40 hours in a given week. But not paying us at all while we are at work seems ridiculous.'
There’s good reason to fear a vengeful boss firing employees for resisting to unfair demands. Florida is an 'at-will' employment state, which means employers can terminate an employee at any time without warning. As law firm Ayo and Iken reports, Florida employers cannot terminate an employee for an illegal reason, such as racial discrimination. But the state allows employers leeway to fire employees for simple and mundane reasons, giving supervisors the power to pressure their employees to come in during a natural disaster.
Florida doesn’t have any laws protecting employees during hurricane evacuations, either, according to Employment Law Daily."
For the rest of the story, check out the full piece by The Daily Dot here.