Tag Archives: christmas

I Got Fired for Refusing to Work on Christmas. Is that Legal?

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At-will employees are usually at the mercy of their employer. This is often painfully apparent during the holidays when employees are forced to work on Christmas. But since Christmas is a religious holiday, employees can invoke federal and state anti-discrimination laws under certain circumstances in order to celebrate Christmas. Here are the two steps to avoid being fired for celebrating Christmas:

  1. Your religious belief must be bona fide.
  2. Your employer must know about your religious belief.

However, you can still get fired for not working on Christmas if your employer can show that they had an undue burden in accommodating your request for time off to celebrate Christmas. Notice and accommodation go hand-in-hand. An employee will have a difficult time trying to show religious discrimination if they tell their boss on Dec. 23 that they can’t work their scheduled shift on Christmas Eve.

Letting a boss know well ahead of time about the need for leave on Christmas or any other religious holiday is the best thing an employee can do in order to practice their religious beliefs while maintaining their employment.

Turn Your Home Into A Safe Winter Wonderland!

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Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Be sure to take the time to enjoy and decorate for the holiday season. But also keep safety in mind. For example, if you have big plans to walk around your roof hanging holiday lights, watch for slick spots, even on nice days. And it’s probably not a spoiler to mention that the video below shows just how fast a Christmas tree and even the living room can go up in flames! The ideas below have more tips from the experts at the CPSC to stay safe while enjoying the holidays.

While many of you have probably already put up your tree, for those of you doing some last minute holiday decorating, we wanted to share a few tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commisssion (CPSC) to help you make the season bright safely.


  • When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, check for a “fire resistant” label. While this doesn’t mean that the tree certainly won’t catch fire, it does mean the tree is resistant to burning.
  • When purchasing a fresh Christmas tree, check for freshness. Fresh trees are green, with firm needles that won’t bend or break between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and fresh trees shouldn’t lose many needles when tapped on the ground.
  • Place your tree away from fireplaces, vents, and radiators.
  • Heated rooms dry out fresh trees quickly, so make sure to keep the stand you’re your tree is in filled with water and check water levels daily.


  • When purchasing holiday lights, make sure only to use lights purchased by a nationally recognized testing agency such as UL or ETL
  • Use newer lights that have thicker wiring and safety fuses to prevent overheating.
  • Check new or old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away damaged sets.
  • Only use lights certified for outdoor use outside. Only plug Continue reading

Happy Holidays! Or is it?

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Have fun at your office holiday party, but remember to stay safe!

It is that time of year when employer’s have holiday parties and although no one is told to be there it is the “unspoken” rule that everyone must attend. So what if one is injured during the course and scope of the “holiday cheer” session?

Generally, there is no law specifically dealing with injuries sustained during the holiday party but there are rules applicable to company picnics or intramural recreation that would apply to help you determine if one’s injuries would be covered under these circumstances.

Both the State of Nebraska and the State of Iowa have adopted the test set out in 1A A. Larson, Workmen’s Compensation, § 22.00, at 5-71 (8th ed.1982)). Professor Larson states the general rule that recreational or social activities are within the scope of employment when:

(1) They occur on the employer’s premises during a lunch or recreation period as a regular incident of the employment; or (2) The employer, by expressly or impliedly requiring participation, or by making the activity part of the services of an employee, brings the activity within the orbit of the employment; or (3) The employer derives substantial direct benefit from the activity beyond the intangible value of improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life.
Gray v. State, 205 Neb. 853, 290 N.W.2d 651 (1980); Briar Cliff College v. Campolo, 360 N.W.2d 91, 94 (Iowa 1984),

The above rules can be demonstrated the best by giving you two examples the courts have distinguished the above rules. First, in the case of Shade v. Ayars & Ayars, Inc., 247 Neb. 94, 525 N.W.2d 32 (1994), Shade, his foreman, and several other employees began a game of touch football, which escalated into tackle football. During the game, Shade was tackled by the foreman and a coworker, and his head was driven into the ground by the tackle. The resulting cervical spine injury left Shade a quadriplegic. The Court found that the company did not receive “any substantial direct benefit from the activity ‘picnic’, although it may be inferred that it derived the intangible value of improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life,” and the claim was dismissed.

However, another example of applying the Larson rule can be found in the case of Briar Cliff College v. Campolo, 360 N.W.2d 91, 94 (Iowa 1984). Campolo was a college professor who died while playing on a faculty intramural basketball team. He was awarded benefits because the basketball game in which a faculty member had participated contributed to student retention, where the court found “student recruitment and retention are major concerns of the college to insure adequate enrollment and revenues.”

Thus, if you find that you are required to attend any company or employer holiday party this year, please pay special attention to the rule that encompasses an injury as arising in the course of employment if the employer derives substantial direct benefit from the activity beyond the intangible value of improvement of employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life.

Be careful out there! Anything can happen when you celebrate and have fun!