California Enacts Law Prohibiting Employer Retaliation Against Employees Who Refuse To Report To Work During Emergencies
Being a responsible adult involves honoring your promises, even when you don’t feel like it. When you sign an employment contract or accept a job on an at-will employment basis, you are agreeing to be present at your worksite when scheduled to work. Employment laws and the policies of individual companies outline the situations where employees may miss work without penalty and the procedures for notifying employers of an absence. Despite this, employers often expect their employees to risk their health and safety under the auspices of doing their jobs, and most of the time, out of economic necessity, they do it. It took a pandemic punctuated by an endless cascade of short-term emergencies for the discussion to reach fever pitch about how unfair and unsafe all of this is. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that protects employees from retaliation by their employers if they miss work or leave their worksites due to an emergency. To find out more about legal protections against employer retaliation, contact a Los Angeles retaliation lawyer.
Prioritizing Your Safety During an Emergency Is a Protected Activity
Senate Bill 1044, which Gov Newsom signed into law on September 29, 2022, prohibits employers from taking or threatening adverse actions against employees who leave the affected worksite or refuse to report to work during and because of an emergency situation. SB 1044 defines an emergency situation as a natural disaster or criminal act that cause a disaster or extreme peril to the safety of a person or property; long-term health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic do not qualify under this new law. Employees who need to leave work early must notify their employers that the emergency is their reason for leaving when feasible or as soon as possible. The employee should have reasonable fear that the emergency is affecting the workplace, the employee’s home, or the employee’s child’s school. The employee’s fear is considered reasonable if an evacuation order has been issued or if the school or workplace has issued alerts about the emergency.
Notably, the law does not apply to employees whose job duties require them to facilitate emergency response. First responders (law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians) must work during emergencies as instructed by their employers. Healthcare workers and those who work at residential care facilities are also not allowed to refuse to work because of emergencies. Other jobs that are exempt from the provisions of SB 1044 include utilities, communications, roadside assistance, and energy. In other words, it is clear from your job description whether you are required to work during emergencies or not.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employer Retaliation Lawyer
Unless your job is to assist with emergency response, you have the right to refuse to work when doing so would compromise your health or property. A Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer can help you exercise your right to keep your job while still prioritizing your own safety and that of your family when reacting to emergencies. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.