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Can I Be Fired For Refusing To Work On Thanksgiving? Top Lawyer Reply!

On Behalf of | Nov 26, 2015 | Wage: Minimum Wage, Wage: Overtime |

Best Ohio Employment Lawyer Reply: Can my boss force me to work during the holidays? Should I be paid more if I have to work on Thanksgiving? Can I be fired for calling off sick on Thanksgiving?

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So, it is Thanksgiving, and after having breakfast with the family and playing a couple dozen games of Connect Four with my daughters, I’m sitting down to do some work on our employment lawyers‘ blog. This is something that I have chosen to do with part of my holiday weekend (we closed our office for Thursday and Friday). Some employees will not have a choice. If anyone has watched TV over the last week or so, you have undoubtedly seen retail employers bragging about forcing their employees to come in on Thanksgiving so that they can open their door right a t 6 p.m. to offer the rest of us huge “Black Friday” sales on Thursday . While these employers do not mention their employees in their TV advertisements, the only thing that I could think of was that this 6 p.m. open time means that these employers have destroyed Thanksgiving dinner for their employees.

This time of year, our employment attorneys are regularly faced with questions about employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving and what these employees should be paid. Our employment lawyers blogged about this problem last year. (See Can My Boss Make Work Thanksgiving Without Paying Me Extra? I Need A Wage Lawyer!). Since our an employment lawyer often get asked at this time of year about holiday pay and hours, I have decided revisit this issue again.

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Let’s start with the basics. The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA“) is a federal law that controls wage and hour issues such as overtime and minimum wage. Ohio’s R.C. § 4111.03 is the state law addressing overtime; and R.C. § 4111.01 and § 4111.02 control minimum wage in Ohio. While these law require that non-exempt employees be paid a minimum rate must per hour and that these employees must be paid time and half for hours worked over 4 hours worked in a given work week, these wage and hour laws do not regulate whether your employer can tell you when to work (such as overnight or even holiday shifts) or require that you be paid extra for working on holidays. As Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01 do not protect employee for religious reasons. As such, if you refuse to work on Thanksgiving, your employer can fire you and you would not have a wrongful termination claim. Sucks, right?

Last year, our wage theft lawyers blogged that Ohio State Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from Cleveland proposed a wage and hour law that would require retailers in Ohio to pay its workers triple normal wages on Thanksgiving. Since then, there has been absolutely no news on this law. So, it looks like it died a quiet death.

If there is any hope, it may not come from new laws. Studies from last year reported that 2014 in-store foot traffic sales fell by eight percent over 2013. At the same time, overall sales rose by about four percent because of a significant growth for online purchases. The National Retail Federation is predicting yet further online sales growth in comparison to any growth that brick-and-mortar retailers may see. With the growing trend towards online holiday shopping, hopefully many large retailers will see that they can offer huge on line deals on Thanksgiving without pulling their employees away from their family holiday time. At least that I is what I will be wishing for when I pull by end of the wishbone.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to play Scrabble with my family.

If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards laws or you are an nonexempt employee that has been misclassified as exempt or independent contractor, contact the attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. The wage and hour lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.


The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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