During a state of emergency, like during extreme weather conditions, can an employer in Wilmington, Delaware force you to come in or even threaten to terminate your employment?

Question Details:During a state of emergency, i.e. extreme weather conditions, can an employer force you to come in to work or even terminate your employment? I work for a funeral home answering service that claims to be an emergency service. We answer the phones when a funeral home office is unavailable. I called out of work, due to a recent Delaware state of emergency caused by a blizzard. The response I received is that I must be at work no matter what the weather. What qualifies as an emergency service? Can they force me to come in to work though only certain people at the company are required to come in? Now they are saying they are terminating me.

Asked 5 years ago under Employment and Labor | 20812 Views | More Legal Topics

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N. K., Member, Iowa and Illinois Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

It depends on what your employment contract states regarding "emergency services" and your status as an "emergency" worker. Also, if it would have been difficult and/or dangerous for you to travel to your work because of the blizzard,  that may be a legitimate reason for you not to come into work. I would consult an employment attorney in your area. Have the attorney review your employment contract, your work status, and any other relevant facts in order to determine what your legal rights and options are in this situation.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

Do you have an employment contract or agreement of some kind? If so, it has any terms related to termination, attendence at work under adverse conditions, etc., those terms will control.

However, without a contract, you are an employee at will. Employers may terminate employees at will at any time, for any reason--even unfair reasons, like not coming in on a weather emergency day. Also, companies are not obligated to treat employees generally, especially employees at will, fairly--the employer could choose to call in some employees, not others.

If you are an employee at will, unless you can show that you are being discriminated against (e.g. fired because of your race, religion, gender, age over 40, disability status), your employer can almost certainly terminate you if they choose.

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