Boss got COVID-19: NJ man says he was fired after asking for sanitized office
A New Jersey man has sued the Middlesex County business where he worked for over 20 years, accusing the company of firing him after asking if the office would be disinfected after the boss contracted COVID-19.
Alan Henslovitz, 70, of Livingston, filed a discrimination lawsuit in Superior Court of Essex County in June. The complaint accuses Thunderball Marketing, based in the Avenel section of Woodbridge, of violating Gov. Phil Murphy's Executive Order 107 regarding non-essential businesses closing their premise due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other points of contention are Henslovitz's age — as the oldest among non-executive staff members — and a temporary disability due to a diabetic foot ulcer.
Henslovitz said Thunderball Marketing ignored his requests last fall for remote access to work during a brief hospitalization and recovery.
The office closed on March 30 after the president of the company tested positive for coronavirus, at which point Henslovitz was able to work remotely without issue, the lawsuit says.
Henslovitz says he emailed the company’s attorney, notifying him of the positive case and said there was no announced plan to sanitize the office until after it closed for Passover, as a paid vacation span between April 9 and 19.
He says his email ended with, “None of us have been given a directive whether to file unemployment or what to do at this stage.”
The lawsuit filed by Henslovitz also laid out the following chain of events:
- The attorney for Thunderball Marketing responded and said that Henslovitz should file for unemployment, which he did on April 6.
- Two weeks later, on April 17, the attorney emailed Henslovitz asking if his unemployment claim had been processed.
- The same day, his boss contacted him and said not to report to work on April 20.
- On April 19, Henslovitz found out that he was the only staff member instructed not to report back to work and that other employees and customers he dealt with were told he no longer worked for the company.
Thunderball Marketing and its executive team denied any discrimination claims, according to court filings on Oct. 2.
None of the court filings noted whether any other cases of COVID-19 had been reported within the facility other than the initial case that shutdown the office for a period of time in April.