A former marketing director who worked for Alaris Health, a health system based in New Jersey, recently filed a lawsuit against the company alleging he was the victim of wrongful termination after attempting to return to work following infection with the COVID-19 virus.
The plaintiff, Shakespeare Domenech, was given a new job description at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was asked to work as a nurse at one of Alaris’s nursing home facilities, this despite the fact that his nursing license had expired. Domenech objected to the assignment as he needed to care for an immunocompromised relative.
Alaris then asked him to perform nursing care at another facility, to which he also objected, claiming the second facility did not provide personal protective equipment (PPE).
Domenech eventually tested positive for the virus and took a medical leave of absence from work. When he was recovered he asked to be allowed to work from home, but Alaris denied the request. He received a negative COVID-19 test and attempted to return to his work in person, but was sent home on instructions that the was not approved to return. He never received further communication from Alaris.
In the lawsuit, Domenech alleges that in its actions, Alaris violated the state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
This case is one of many around the country that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic dealing with wrongful termination after positive tests. Enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines relating to employment is only expected to get tighter under the new Biden administration, meaning employers that take illegal action to terminate employees could expect to see stiffer penalties.
For more information about how to proceed with a wrongful termination case, contact an experienced attorney at Kardell Law Group.