Florida employees are required to show up to work when a natural disaster hits, such as when Hurricane Irma struck, otherwise the person can lose his or her job.
The State of Florida is considered an "at-will state." The designation means employees and their employer do not have a long-term contractual obligation to each other.
Being an employee in an "at-will state" can conflict with common assumptions of human safety.
“An employer can fire anyone for any reason or even for no reason," Michael Chionopoulos said, who is an attorney based in Fort Myers. "It doesn’t have to give the employee a reason at all."
If city and state officials have put out a mandatory evacuation order because of a natural disaster, an employee's boss can choose to fire him or her for not coming into work.
The decision will be backed by the Florida law.
The employer will be justified, as long as the employee who was released was not fired because of race, religion, gender, ethnic origin or a disability.
The employer's power to fire at will extends to local government workers. A person who works for the local government, but is in a city that must evacuate, still has a chance of losing his or her job. But, the employee may have better chances.
“There are likely some protections there because there is some protection at almost all levels of government,” Chionopoulos said, who is a military veteran and a former judge. “So I would assume that there's a good possibility that the person working for the city may not lose their job.”
If you don’t have a contract with your job, such as an adverse weather policy, make sure to talk to your boss before an emergency so that they are at least notified.
“You’re not guaranteed a job — they don’t owe you a job," Chionopoulos said. "You don’t have a right to that job. They are running their business and they get to hire who they want.”