Could you be fired for missing work during a natural disaster?
Yes, in most instances the employer has the right to terminate due to “at will” law.
Business attorney, Brian Douglas
A Pizza Hut in Florida received backlash after a viral post left many people upset. The letter addressed to team members states, “"In the event of an evacuation, you must return within 72 hours.” Also “In the event of an evacuation, you must return within 72 hours” and “failure to show up regardless of reason will be documented.”
WUSA9 News reached out to Atlanta based business attorney, Brian Douglas who explained employers do have the right to fire employees due to at will employment.
Douglas explained, “All states recognize some sort of “at will” employment, meaning that absent a written employment contract and employer may terminate an employee for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all. “At will” employment means that the employer can terminate the employee for any non-discriminatory reason. This means that the employer does not have to establish just cause for the termination.”
A state of emergency only applies to state and local government, not private businesses. The lawyer says the only exception is when there's also a mandatory evacuation - then you may have some legal rights.
Pizza Hut corporate - by the way - found out about that letter sent to staff and has since responded saying, “We do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guideline.”