What protections do employees have, if any, if they call in to work during a city emergency? What actions can they take against an employer who pressures them to come to work even though the metro authorities are insisting that people not leave their homes?
Here in Nashville, we're getting severe flooding. My boyfriend "Q", who works downtown for a major tourist attraction, wanted to try to go to work even though the news said that it was too dangerous to go out. He said that he needed to at least make an effort before calling in.
We got about a half a mile before the road ahead was completely submerged under several feet of water, and we could see a few cars trapped in the flood. We turned around and made it home, avoiding a few low points in the road.
I turned on the news to see all of the news channels telling us to stay home, that emergency workers, the police, and the mayor were asking everyone to stay off the roads, and that citations would be given to anyone driving on a road that was closed (almost every road to downtown).
Q called his boss to tell her he couldn't get in to work. The boss told him that everyone else had made it in, and he needed to try again. She told him to drive on the interstate to get in. The news showed the interstate, flooded, with people trapped in their cars. She told him to take back roads. I told him that since it was my car I wasn't going to let it be driven in a flood (just so that he could tell her it was out of his hands).
She told him to take the bus. He said he would. I said, "Are you kidding me?" I know she heard me.
So he checked the MTA website, and it said all buses were grounded. Q called his boss again to tell her that he really had no way to get to work. She told him, "Fine. And you can tell your girlfriend I don't appreciate her shitty attitude."
I took the phone and kind of yelled at her, telling her that it was wrong to treat her workers like that and that it was too dangerous to go out. She told me I couldn't talk to her like that, and I said I could, because she wasn't my boss and Q's safety was my business. She hung up on me. I regret that I raised my voice, but I didn't swear or call her names, so I don't think I was unreasonable.
My question is: What rights does Q have in this situation if they try to punish him for not coming to work during a city emergency? He doesn't have a record of missing work for half-baked reasons -- he's missed maybe three days of work in the three years he's worked for them. They never complain about the quality of his work. This isn't a case of an employee being lazy and making excuses. We're not Chicken Littles trying to snag a day off. This
* is what was blocking the road from our house.
I want to submit a complaint to his employers about the whole thing. Q is fine with whatever I do -- he said he'd rather that I deal with it since he has to work with these people. He just wants to keep his job. I'm amazed that they show such disregard for their employees and I can't stand the thought of doing nothing about it.
Any advice? And how much did I mess up his case by yelling at his boss?
*Not my photos.