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Even after hurricane, companies can fire employees who can’t make it to work

September 18, 2018

After hearing from a woman who said she lost her power in Hurricane Florence but was still fired for not showing up for a shift at the restaurant where she worked, 5 on Your Side checked on state regulations regarding such moves.

Because North Carolina is an at-will employment state, private-sector employees can be fired for any reason – or no reason at all, according to the state Department of Labor. The exception would be if the employer has an adverse weather policy that employees have signed. Barring that, however, a company can demand workers show up if the business is open, even if the governor has declared a state of emergency and has asked people to stay off roads, as has been the case with Hurricane Florence.

If an employee fears for his or her safety, a rare appeal may be possible through the Labor Department’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Bureau. People can call the department toll-free at 1-800-NC LABOR for more information.

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