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Husband Fired Wrongfully in My Mind - Need Advice

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What is the name of your state? New Jersey

I am very angry and need some advice on this.

My husband worked for a company for almost 1 year. He is too open with his personal business and I am mad at this but too late. Now.....

He went to apply for a job that required a TB skin test. This test came back positive which then he was instructed to see his doctor for a chest xray. This came back negative which means he was exposed to TB some time in his life but it didn't infect him. So his doctor told him to go about his normal life. He said he is not infected and he should not worry about it anymore. Well... he didn't pursue this job because he was hired somewhere else. While working one day, a co-worker (a volunteer firefighter) was talking about different scares he had in his FF career and so my hubby was telling him about the TB scare. Well 10 months later this co-worker got "concerned" and mentioned this to the boss. Well the boss called my hubby in and asked a bunch of questions. He told him that they were sending him for a chest xray to be sure that he didn't have this and if everything came back negative, that everything would be fine. The chest xray came back negative, so this means he doesn't have this disease. Well the employer said they still feel he lied on his pre-employment screening because he checked off "NO" to "do you have any of the following infectious diseases", with TB listed as one. If he doesn't have the disease, as was proven by the chest xray, why should he have checked "Yes"?

Ok well he was terminated. He applied for unemployment, and was denied. First of all they didn't just deny him, they made him go through a phone interview because they found this case to be bizarre. So they went through the phone interview and denied him. He put in for an appeal and had a phone appeal with the judge and the employer. The judge said for the employer to provide proof that he had this disease. Of course without an attorney we can't see the documents but how could they provide proof if the chest xrays came back negative? Because he was still denied by the appeals tribunal. The person my husband spoke to told him to reappeal it. I just don't want to waste any more time or stress out over it any longer if we are going to be shot down again.

I am going to look into an attorney but really can't afford one and was wondering what anyone else thinks about this.

All help is appreciated.


I'm a Northern Girl
There are two different issues here: whether or not your husband has a wrongful termination case (he doesn't, and I'll explain why in a minute) and the unemployment issue. The two are in no way connected.

As far as wrongful termination goes, as that term is used in law it means someone whose firing was ILLEGAL. Not unfair (I agree with you that it was unfair) but it was not ILLEGAL to fire him in these circumstances. There are two types of illegal terminations; violations of Title VII and violations of public policy. Title VII: Under Federal law it is illegal to fire someone because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, pregnancy, or because they are over 40. (At the state level, in your state, you may add sexual orientation, cellular or blood traits, genetic information, marital status, service in the armed forces, or smoking/non-smoking status, and change the age limits to 18-70.) In order to prove a wrongful termination under Title VII, he would have to show that he was fired BECAUSE OF something on this list, and that someone else in a different classification but in the same circumstances would not have been fired.

A public policy violation is one in which someone is fired BECAUSE OF their use or application for a benefit or right which is protected under the law: FMLA, workers comp, reporting illegal activity to the appropriate outside agency, etc. To have a wrongful termination under public policy, he would have to show that the issue of the application was a pretext and he was REALLY fired because he applied for/used a protected right or benefit.

It is NOT illegal to fire someone for falsifying their application. Whether he actually did so or not is up for grabs. Obviously the employer believes that what he should have said was, "I do not have active TB but previous tests show that I have been exposed to it at some time". (There is always a place for explanations on those, even though the boxes are Yes/No.) But since the employer BELIEVES, rightly or wrongly (employers are allowed to make mistakes too) that your husband falsified his application, it is not illegal to fire him.

The unemployment issue is completely separate and has nothing to do with whether the termination was legal or not. For some reason a great many people have gotten it into their heads that if unemployment benefits are issued, it means they were wrongfully terminated. That is absolutely not the case. Plenty of people are receiving unemployment whose termination was perfectly legal. It's entirely up to your husband whether to appeal again. No one here can gauge whether you will win on a further appeal or not. It's totally unclear to me why he was denied benefits in the first place, but I wasn't there in the room and didn't hear all the testimony.

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