It's flooding! Can my boss fire me if I can't get into work?

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One of the big questions employees ask during emergency situations, such as this week’s flood is: Will I be in trouble if I can't get to work?

When the city was totally shut down during the worst of the flooding,  most employers told their employees to stay home.

Fox 26 News got emails from viewers who said their bosses actually fired them because they didn't drive into work.

Some viewers claimed their bosses were forcing them to take flood days as 'vacation' days.

One viewer said if they called in or were late they'd get a mark against them. Too many marks and they'd be fired.

In one very odd situation, an employee shared with me texts from her boss. These texts claim he drove by her house to prove to her that she could have made it into work.  Her response was that she was afraid of floods and her car was too low to the ground to travel safely.

Can a boss do that?

According to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, it depends. 

If an employee can't get to work on a day when authorities have closed area roads and are recommending against travel, employers will have a hard time holding that against the employee. In those cases, employers would have to prove the employee really could have come to work, despite the flooding.

If co-workers can make it in, employees may need to prove to the boss why they couldn't make it. Otherwise it will count towards an absence limit.

Actually getting fired is not addressed in the Federal Act.  Employee termination is complicated and usually takes a lot more than missing day due to area flooding.

If you think your boss wasn't fair in handling your absence during the flood, you can file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Dept. of Labor.