Lehi, UT asked in Employment Law for Utah

Q: Is a work safety policy that prohibits workers from leaving the building to go home or to the restroom legal?

When lightning is reported within a certain number of miles, employees are prohibited from leaving the building until no strikes have been recorded for 30 minutes. They are told they cannot go home if this happens at the end of shift and are also prohibited from using restroom facilities which are located outdoors.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: So many issues.

"Is it legal?" is a loaded question. There is nothing specifically illegal about having a policy in place. Employers can make a policy about nearly anything and employees may choose to follow the policy, seek other employment, or ignore the policy and risk discipline. If your employer required you to wear clown makeup to work everyday, it would be "legal." Silly, but legal.

So if your employer requires you to remain until released, they must pay you for your time. If that results in overtime, they must pay you at an overtime rate.

If your employer physically prevents you from leaving the premises, that would be unlawful and you would have a claim for damages not to mention individual employees enforcing the unlawful policy could be subject to criminal penalties if you could convince law enforcement to charge them.

If you choose not to follow the policy and either leave or go to the toilet and you are terminated, you should consult an employment law attorney to determine if you have a case for wrongful termination. I would suspect that you would, but employment law is not my area of expertise, you are not currently in that position, and, if you find yourself in that position, you really should sit down one on one with an employment attorney.

Happy Fourth!

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