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Court rules that divorce cannot be grounds for termination

Going through the dissolution of a marriage can be a difficult time. For many spouses, fears about their financial stability, child custody matters and other issues can create a significant burden of stress. Few Florida residents, however, fear losing their job based on the fact that they are going through a divorce. That issue was recently addressed by one state's Supreme Court, and the resulting ruling could provide a sense of relief to some Florida workers.

The case centered on a man and woman who were both employed by a county Rescue Squad. The husband had entered into an affair with a volunteer at work, and his wife eventually found out about the indiscretion. When it became clear that the marriage was headed for divorce, both the husband and wife separately approached management to discuss the matter. At that time, the man was told that there was no guarantee that the matter would not affect his employment, and that they would have to "wait and see" how things progressed.

When the man moved out of the family home, he notified his supervisor. The supervisor took the matter before the Board, and the decision was made to terminate the man's employment. He filed suit, and the supervisor eventually testified that there was a concern that the couple would have an "ugly divorce" and that it might hinder conditions in the workplace. There is no report on whether the wife was also terminated at that time.

The case was initially dismissed at the trial court level, but the appellate court decided to reverse that ruling, under the argument that a pending divorce should be considered under the protected category of "marital status." The state's Supreme Court then ruled that the case will go back to the lower court, where the terminated employee can pursue remuneration for lost wages and benefits. For those in Florida who are facing a similar set of circumstances, this outcome could help reduce some of the stress surrounding the divorce.

Source:, "Divorce no reason to be fired, N.J. justices rule", Michael Boren, June 23, 2016

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