Can Your Boss Force You To Come To Work During A Snow Emergency?

By Jeff Neumeyer

January 8, 2014 Updated Jan 9, 2014 at 10:27 AM EDT

NORTHEAST Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Should I stay or should I go?

Only authorized personnel were supposed to be driving on the icy roads earlier this week, but what if you were an employee asked to ignore that order and come to work anyway?

It's never easy to tell your boss, "sorry, I don't think I should come in today".

But a Fort Wayne employment lawyer we talked to said this is probably a case where you would have the law firmly on your side.

Top priority snow emergencies were declared in several area counties, ordering most drivers on Monday and Tuesday to stay off the frigid snow packed roads.

We received several Facebook comments, however, from people claiming their boss wanted them to come to work anyway.

Indiana is an "at will" employment state, meaning you can be fired for most any reason that doesn't violate a federal law.

But lawyer Alan Verplanck says you should be on solid ground if an employer terminates you for refusing to perform an act that is illegal or that imposes on you personal criminal liability.

"If an ambulance can't get down my street because I'm parked horizontal to the path of travel, my problem may not be I couldn't get to work, my problem may theoretically be if someone died because I violated the law, I may have a claim filed against me in civil court for a wrongful death," Verplanck said.

He showed us an appeals court ruling that said, “…Firing someone for refusing to commit an illegal act for which he would be held personally liable would be as much a violation of public policy as firing someone for filing a workmen's compensation claim.”

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