Hurricane season begins June 1 for the Texas coast.  The Tropical Meteorology Project from Colorado State University predicts in its 2009 Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Forecast that there will be 12 named storms; 6 hurricanes; and 2 intense hurricanes this year.

Texas law protects most employees who evacuate their homes and work areas in compliance with a government evacuation order.  The law prohibits employers from terminating the employment of or otherwise discriminating against employees (other than emergency services personnel with adequate emergency shelter and employees needed to restore vital services) who leave their employment to to comply with an emergency evacuation order.  While evacuation orders are most frequently issued in Texas in connection with a  hurricane evacuation order, the law applies to any evacuation order.  Evacuation orders may be issued for emergencies such as wild fires, natural disasters, explosions or water contamination, chemical escapes or spills, terrorism activity, military action and other emergency actions.  Evacuation orders providing employees protection can be issued by local, county, state or federal authorities.

Not only are employees protected from discharge or discrimination from complying with such orders, they may also be eligible for unemployment benefits.  The employer’s unemployment benefit account will not be charged for the benefits paid under this circumstance.

(Photo courtesy of NOAA Aug. 29, 2005 at 11:15 a.m.)