Divorce as a ground for employment termination

File this one under SERIOUSLY??   On December 1, 2015 our NJ Supreme Court heard arguments in “Robert Smith v. Millville Rescue Squad.”  In this case, Robert Smith, a 17 year employee of the Rescue Squad was fired immediately after telling his supervisor that he and his wife would not be able to reconcile their differences, and that he would be filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences grounds.   Smith sued, and the trial court dismissed his Complaint.  An appeal to the Appellate Division re-instated the Complaint and the Rescue Squad appealed that decision to the NJ Supreme Court.  Now, to be fair, despite Smith’s allegation that he was told he was being fired because the divorce would be “ugly,” the Squad did allege that the firing was because of declining performance.  This despite the fact that Smith had continually received raises, and good performance reviews.  I suspect that there is much, much more than meets the eye going on in this case, and will keep a close eye for a decision.  In the meantime mull over the effect that a reversal will have on employer-employee relationships.  THINK of the new application for employment where the employer cannot ask if the applicant has felony convictions, but can ask if he or she is contemplating, has or will file for divorce . . .

 

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