There are right ways to respond to crises, and there are wrong ways. Requiring employees to use their own sick/vacation days if they're unable to make it into work because of a natural disaster? Yeah, that's probably a wrong way.
Gawker has obtained an email that is purportedly from the MSG Company, which encompasses entertainment venues such as Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater; sports franchises like the New York Knicks and Rangers; and media outlets such as Fuse and the MSG Network. (Gawker provided Yahoo! Sports with a copy of the email, which includes several MSG-specific items not included in Gawker's original post.)
The message is pretty simple: things are tough, but get back to work:
In order to ensure that we continue operating our business and are able to deliver the very best experience for our customers, we are asking employees to come to work. We recognize that many employees are impacted by the transportation issues as well as a lack of power, and that some are even dealing with personal damage and health issues. In the event that you need to make the personal decision that you are unable to come to work, you will need to notify your supervisor and take a personal or vacation day to cover the time off.
Not a whole lot of gray area there, is there? You can see it from a cold dollars-and-cents point of view, as well as from a "we're suspicious of human nature, and people are going to use Sandy as an excuse to skip work" angle. But power remains out over much of the area, houses (possibly those of MSG employees) are flattened or damaged, and human misery and suffering are everywhere in the NYC area. Plus, there are simple logistical concerns: With Mayor Bloomberg requiring all cars entering the city to have three or more occupants (a fact the letter notes elsewhere) and astronomical lines for public transportation options, it's entirely possible that even those who are able to work may not be able to get there.
MSG Company has not responded to a Yahoo! Sports request for comment and clarification on the issue, including whether the email is even genuine, so take this with the proverbial grain of salt. But this email has been public for hours and is working its way around the web, so now might be a good time for the company to respond. Assuming its PR professionals are not using their vacation days, of course.