Many employees across the world are contemplating staying home with the spread of the Corona Virus pandemic. If you are in an at-will state, your employer may have a lot of power if you decide to not to show up for work.
Florida is an At-Will State
In Florida, all employment is at-will, unless you have a contract. At-will employment means that an employer can fire you at any time for no reason or any reason, as long as it is not a bad reason. That also means that any employee can quit at any time without suffering repercussions. The idea is that the employment relationship can be terminated by either party, and is on an ongoing basis. This leaves flexibility to both employers, who may need mass reductions, and employees, who may come upon better work opportunities. The only caveat is that any firing cannot be for a bad reason; which typically refers to discrimination in hiring or firing practices.
Washington, D.C. is At-Will
The District of Colombia is also an at-will employment jurisdiction. The only way to avoid an at-will relationship is by having a written employment contract that contains a term of employment for a certain period of time.
Can I be Fired for Staying Home?
As mentioned above, Florida and Washington, D.C. are at-will employment jurisdictions. Thus, your employer may fire you for any reason. Your employer can fire you for not showing up to work. Your employer may also fire you if they decide they cannot maintain their workforce due to the virus’s effects on their income. However, if there is some bad reason underlying the employer’s practices then the firing may be challenged.
For example, you may be entitled to a certain amount of sick days. Your employer cannot fire you because you decided to use the sick days you are entitled to.
Further, if you are fired due to a mass reduction, you may be able to claim reemployment benefits in Florida. See our other blog post on claiming reemployment benefits, to determine whether you are eligible.