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Terminated Because of Having to Provide Insurance
Oct 12, 2012

I was lured away from a job with great benefits, including health insurance, to join a gay newspaper. The owners said they couldn't afford a group insurance plan so I rejected their job offer, informing them that my insurance was a non-negotiable since I am HIV-positive. They then talked me into agreeing to join them by saying they would increase my monthly salary offer to pay for COBRA coverage temporarily. By the time the COBRA coverage ended, they promised, they would pursue a group plan and I would be covered by that.

I worked for the employer for a little more than a year and then started to get worried that my COBRA would be ending within months. I reminded my employer about their promise and said they needed to act soon because I would soon be without insurance coverage.

Unfortunately, as soon as I started to make this an issue, I was called into the office on a Monday morning and was told I was being laid off. They wouldn't give me any reason -- didn't say it was related to performance -- just said "it wasn't working out."

I believe I was fired, in the end, because they didn't want to pay a costly group plan that would include coverage for someone with HIV, despite their promises to me. (The newspaper employed less than 10 people.)

I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is a right to work state. Considering that, is there any basis for a claim that my work termination was wrongful and discriminatory?

Response from Mr. Chambers

You are really asking a legal question and I am not an attorney. Do you have anything other than their oral promise to buy insurance? Do you have anything that would support your claim that the job you were doing was inferior or problematic?

Wrongful termination suits are not easy when you are an "at will" employee, however, it may be worth looking further into it. There are legal agencies that serve the HIV community in Wisconsin. One is here, and they have an office in Milwaukee. One is here

Talk to them about your situation and see what they say.

Good luck, Jacques

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