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Can You Legally Be Fired for Being Late to Work?
Coming to work on time is a must for employees. However, there are cases when they show up late for work. But can lateness be considered a legal cause for termination without notice?
The answer is definitely yes. You can be fired for showing up late for work with no excuse unless you live in Montana or your contract includes points allowing you to be late for work. At-will employees can be fired for any reason and even for no reason at all.
However, the boss is not always right, as there are certain laws protecting employees from being fired for lateness. In case of emergency requiring you to be late for work, the following 5 laws may be applied. Make sure they can protect you from being fired, otherwise ensure that punctuality is one of your merits.
Fair Labor Standards Act
“Exempt” employees are supposed to be paid for a full day even if they show up late. If they are treated like hourly employees, being docked or fired for tardiness, they can be misclassified under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under this legal act employee can hold employer liable for the time he docked and for overtime pay. In case the employer is taken to court he may be entitled to pay liquidated damages and legal costs, which double the amount they owe.
Domestic Violence Leave
If you need to come in late because of a medical emergency owing to domestic violence, that requires seeking police assistance or applying for an emergency injunction, there are many state laws or local ordinances protecting you for being fired.. As the laws protecting domestic violence victims from being terminated vary from state to state, you`d better contact a lawyer to find out legal rights under them.
Family and Medical Leave
According to this law the employees can take up to 12 weeks of ongoing or intermittent leave to deal with a serious medical condition that concern your family member or you. An employee may be covered even if he haven`t applied for leave beforehand. In this case he/she need to call in ASAP and fill the paperwork.
Americans with Disabilities Act
This act can work for latecomers who are disabled or have chronic medical conditions. Under this Act employee can request a reasonable accommodation to come in later, if the chronic disease shows signs of resurgence or he/she has a doctor`s appointment.
Testifying Under Subpoena
Some states have laws protecting employees from being terminated in case they report late for work due to being required to testify under subpoena. Those subpoenaed for a trial can be called without warning thus having no possibility to tell the management about it beforehand.
Common excuses that are not covered
There are one thousand and one excuses the employees often use to justify their lateness. However, they won`t save from being terminated. Share in comments which one of these old chestnuts (or add yours) you use when you are late for work.
My car has broken down
Sounds similar, isn`t it? However, you can expect no legal protection if you try to justify your lateness with this weak argument. You can always take public transportation or a taxi not to be late.
I have a hung-over
Monday absences and lateness may occur due to much partying on Sunday evening. If it`s your case, then be prepared that having a hangover is not a legal excuse that can prevent your boss from firing.
School conference ran late
Many working parents are facing problems with attending teacher`s conferences at school, as they are usually held during the daytime. If the boss is against your absence, then you can be fired for being late to work due to attending a conference during working hours.
What to do if you are being late for work
Even if you have legal protection, it doesn`t mean that you must come to work anytime you want and employer will turn a blind eye to your lateness. Violating your responsibilities can serve a legal ground for being terminated.
Employees should always notice their employer or a specific person (in accordance with company policy) if there is a need to be late. Call him, text, send an email or use any other ways of informing not to violate your company policy. Don`t give a change to be accused of a “no-show no-call”. Confirming by phone may be not enough, especially if your supervisor is dishonest. Follow up phone confirmation with an email or a text.
Don`t forget to bring a doctor`s note. Make sure it`s completed right and has no lacking or wrong information.
The best advice to finish with – don`t be late at all. Your working hours are paid by employer, so don`t waste time idling away in tardiness. May be you don`t think that coming late by a few minutes is a big deal, but it can be quickly spread among other employees. Your boss may decide to put an end to it by firing you.