Receiving a ton of calls by employees asking if there are any protections afforded to the employee when they are terminated because they could not get to work the last few days due to the lovely 3 feet of snow we received here in Connecticut. The State has been in a perpetual state of an emergency since Saturday and many towns are still declared as such. So where does that leave the employee who was buried under all of that snow or got stuck and couldn’t make it to work?
The unfortunate news is, the State of Connecticut is an ‘employment at will’ state, which means the employee can be terminated for any reason at any time. That means if you could not dig yourself out and get yourself to work, the employer could legally terminate you. There is no discrimination involved in this type of terminations, unless of course you are disabled and your disability (such as not being able to dig your car out) was the cause of your failure to be able to report to work.
The termination of such an employee however does come without a price tag attached. If the employee is terminated due to his/her failure to arrive at work due to inclement weather, such as we just experienced, the employee will be able to demonstrate that their failure to show up for work was not “willful” and that they held “good cause”. The employee will more than likely be found eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
While we are on the topic of unemployment benefits, the employee should also be aware that if their place of employment was closed due to the storm, exempt employees pursuant to FLSA must be paid for those missed days from work. The hourly employee is not required by law to be paid; however, they may be able to file a claim with unemployment for their missed time from work. The CT DOL set this standard during Hurricane Sandy and that information is still available on their website.