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Erin McLaughlin, shareholder in the firm's Labor & Employment section, was quoted in Yahoo! Finance article, "You can be legally fired in most states for refusing to work Thanksgiving Day."

Two states deviate from that general rule: Massachusetts and Rhode Island require private companies to give workers paid time off for national holidays, according to Erin McLaughlin, a labor & employment attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Local ordinances can also impact holiday work and pay rules, McLaughlin adds, as can collective bargaining agreements that govern rules for union workers. 

However, regardless of whether an employer recognizes a holiday, Fisher Phillips partner Emily Litzinger explains that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act they still must consider requests for time off from workers who want the day off for a religious holiday.

Employers must engage in what’s called an "interactive process" to decide if they can accommodate a holiday request, without causing the business an undue hardship, Litzinger says. She adds that state laws often require similar accommodations. For holidays without any religious significance, such as Thanksgiving or July Fourth, Litzinger explains, "an employer can terminate an employee if he or she refuses to work when assigned."

For government workers, most are entitled to receive paid holiday time off, or alternatively, premium holiday compensation. "They’re in their own set of rules," McLaughlin, says of federal and state workers.

For all U.S. workers, the shift to remote work has complicated which state and local holiday laws apply, McLaughlin says. Federal law still applies, but generally, which state and local laws apply depend on where the employee does their job.

"So for employers who have employees in jurisdictions who are permanently working from home, the employer needs to be mindful of the rules that apply to employees in that jurisdiction," she explains.