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January 25, 2023

Ari Kwiatkowski Interviewed for Buffalo Business First Article on the Consequences of Violating a Travel Ban for Employers and Employees

Ari Kwiatkowski, counsel, was interviewed for the Buffalo Business First article “Driving in a Travel Ban: What Are the Consequences for Employers and Their Employees?” In light of recent deadly winter storms in Western New York, the article explores the consequences people may face for violating a travel ban and how employees and employers can prepare for future travel bans.

A state of emergency declared by executive order from the governor, county executive, or mayor should be taken seriously. If caught, violating a travel ban can mean getting a ticket amounting to a Class B misdemeanor with a $500 fine and even a maximum of three months of incarceration, which can all likely be negotiated down.

Some employers may ask employees to violate a travel ban to get to work. Ari said, “If a client calls me during the storm and says they’re in the suburbs where the driving ban was lifted but they have an employee in the city that was still under the driving ban, I would say, you do not want to take any adverse action against the employee for not being able to come to work.” She also said that she doesn’t recommend employers force employees to take paid time off to cover any missed time as a result of the storm due to it being beyond anyone’s control.

Ari continued, “It’s definitely not advisable if you’re an employer to force or mandate an employee to violate a travel ban, because at that point you’re encouraging a violation of the law.” She advised employers to keep track of the weather, travel bans, and where their employees are commuting from in order to make informed decisions about weather-related closures.

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