Rights of an Employee Driving in Inclement Weather
The winter season brings with it hazardous weather conditions that can make safe driving nearly impossible. In these conditions, it is understandable to ask if an employer can still require you to drive in order to fulfill your duties as an employee. The answer can be either yes or no, depending on several factors, including industry regulations and the discretion of the employer.
Motor Carrier Drivers and OSHA Regulations
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has laid out regulations regarding motor carriers, otherwise known as commercial drivers. It is within a motor carrier employee’s rights, under Title 49 of the Federal Code of Regulations, to refuse to drive in dangerous conditions without repercussions if that employee has a reasonable fear for their safety. Although the severity of conditions is up for interpretation, it is standard for heavy snow, rain, ice, or fog to be considered sufficiently dangerous to cease driving.
National Labor Relations Act
Rules from the National Labor Relations Act allow workers who refuse to work in hazardous conditions to be free of retaliation from their employer if and when three criteria are met. First, the workers must be acting in good faith, truly believing that, under current conditions, it would be dangerous to continue work. Second, more than one worker must be refusing to work because of the conditions. Finally, they must also show that any refusal to work is unrelated to getting around a “no strike” clause in a contract. In the event an employer does retaliate in this circumstance, the Department of Labor may make a decision on which party was in the right. If a ruling favors the employee, that employee is entitled to retain employment, back pay, and legal fees paid.
Commuting to Work
Outside of OSHA and the National Labor Relations Act, it is up to employers to decide if conditions are too dangerous for employees to drive to work. External factors, such as weather conditions, may not be considered if an employee fails to fulfill their responsibilities, and can be subject to termination, reduced pay, or other penalties by the employer. However, there can be alternatives to driving to work, such as telecommuting or using paid time off. One exception to consider is if an employee drives a company vehicle. Commuting might be deemed company time, and a refusal to drive could be handled differently. It is best to speak with human resources about their policy on company cars.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured in a crash due to inclement weather while on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Employers are responsible for maintaining the health and wellbeing of their employees, whether it is on the road or at the job site. Workers’ compensation claims can be difficult to navigate, so it is best to have a top-notch lawyer in your corner. The skilled attorneys at Amy G Injury Firm have handled countless workers’ compensation claims and can use that experience to assist you in your case. Contact us for a free consultation of your case.