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Crossing the line Ohio New Jersey

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  • Crossing the line Ohio New Jersey

    OK I have a question. I work for a big fortune 100 company and hold a esteemed position. IN my position, I have the unfortunate duty of firing employees for various reasons. I have to work with my HR dept frequently and we are sure we are very careful of the questions we ask and things we say when considering termination. Now terminating for a "needs of the business" concept, is true and understandable, and we do a great job at NOT breaking the law.

    Now my wife on the other hand was just let go for something that in my opinion, raises a few questions. Trust me, I plan to ask my HR contact ASAP tomorrow, but I found this site and decided to post this to see what YOU all think.

    My wife and I live in separate states, well, I have dual residency but I work in another state. She told me she heard rumor the other day that the company may have to let someone go due to the lack of business during this recession. ( I understand that part. ) Then she proceeds to tell me that she think something was going on because she felt a bad karma in the office when she made eye contact with her management. I told her not to worry and she will be ok ( like every good husband). Today she told me they let her go but this is where it gets interesting.

    She states her supervisor called her in and said there was a rumor she was planning to quit and move to a nother state with me. Now we have been doing this for 4+ years and she has been in her company for over a year. The entire time, her supervisor knew of her marital relationship status and it never posed a problem. She actually received a lot of accolades for her performance. Back to the story, She then had a meeting with her manager who stated, I heard you were planning on quitting and moving with your husband. She advised noa nd she was not sure of where the source of the information was. A comment was then made, well now you can go be with your husband, and her reply was my daughter is still in school and I would never pull her out mid semester so even though she was being terminated, she still was not moving. She then met with HR who echoed the same things. I hear you were about to quit....

    To make an already long story short, they let her go and said it was due to the needs of the business, but I am not sure if they can legally inquire into a employees personal life and question how an employee decides to conduct their household. I kind of feel a decision was made based on this rumor and her management was out of place making or repeating these allegations.

    If it were my company, we would have just said needs of the business if a decision to make the cut was needed, but why expose the organization by asking and repeating statements that to me seem out of line and inappropriate.

    What do you think? I am curious to find out


  • #2
    There is nothing illegal in terminating her employment for "rumors" that she was leaving and/or for the business needs of the company. She can be terminated at any time for any reason except a reason prohibited by law (ie age, religion, gender) or unless she had a binding employment contract or CBA to the contrary.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.


    • #3
      Agree with Betty, except that some things in NJ are really crazy. If your wife is the one in NJ, she might at the very least ask the NJ Division of Civil Rights about a discrimination claim.

      NJ has many more protected classes than the federal government, and marital status is in there.

      It would be quite a stretch, and not likely fruitful, but like I said, NJ is bizarre. But aside from what the State itself does, the legal counsel of many employers advise them not to even risk this kind of action. Again, I don't agree most of the time, because I see companies keep people or take them back based on just the fear of a suit. Unfortunately when employers give in like this we all end up keeping sub-par employees simply because everyone's afraid to touch someone with a protected status. But your wife might be an exception.

      Would they have termed her if she were not married? Can they demonstrate that they still would have termed her if she weren't? If Div Civil Rights thinks you may have a case, it will be on the employer to prove that they would have termed her even if she were not married to you.
      Last edited by TSCompliance; 01-23-2009, 02:15 PM.


      • #4
        My state protects marital status too, but I have to say that it sounds like a REAL stretch to me. She's not being laid off because she is married; she is not even being laid off because she is married to the poster. She is being laid off because the employer believes she may be going to relocate out of state. That is not a protected characteristic in any state.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


        • #5
          Oh, I totally agree cbg, but I'm just going by what lawyers tend to advise companies to do. It's all CYA and "bend over" (sorry to be a bit crude).

          No company wants to be the test case, and you could certainly envision a dim witted-state worker, on a whim, deciding that the term was because the woman was married, if a bunch of other people were kept, and they aren't married.


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