Employers can penalize, fire workers for weather‑related absences

published in The Oklahoman | February 9, 2011

McAfee & Taft labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley was featured in an Oklahoman story about a call center employee who was upset about being “written up” for absences during a recent snow storm.

“It might not be the best public relations, but there’s nothing illegal about it,” Whatley told The Oklahoman. Employers can legally penalize workers, including termination, who are absent during storms, even with declared states of emergency.

Whatley said that it’s fairly common for companies with entry-level jobs or high turnover to have strict “no-fault” attendance policies.

“They don’t want to hear about it (reasons for absences) or don’t care why, especially at call centers where everyone being there is their entire business,” he said.

Whatley also told The Oklahoman that the law allows employers “to require hourly and salaried workers to use paid time off if they close their businesses due to weather.”