Should My Marital Status Affect My Employment?

Updated: Jan 21

Learn how to file a claim if your employer is discriminating against you because of your marital status.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person's marital status, including whether they are married, not married, divorced, separated, widowed, annulled, dissolved, or have any other marital status. Employers can, however, impose fair restrictions, such as banning spouses from working in the same department.

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Direct proof of marital status discrimination, such as employer statements specifically referring to marital status, or indirect and circumstantial proof, such as inferences drawn from facts and circumstances.

Even if an employee cannot provide clear proof of marital status discrimination, he or she can make an actionable assumption of discrimination by presenting a case argument, typically goes like this:

  • The employee belongs to a protected group (he or she is of a particular marital status).

  • The employee was handled unfairly at work, such as being fired, threatened, or refused a promotion.

Employees with different marital statuses in the same classification were not handled differently, or the employee was replaced by someone with a different marital status.

While marital status discrimination isn't the most common form of unlawful discrimination, it does happen. Discriminating against an employee based on his or her marital status, whether married, separated, divorced, single, or widowed, is known as marital status discrimination.

Discrimination against an unmarried woman who is pregnant, for example, may include both pregnancy and marital status discrimination, when an employer treats an employee unfairly because of her or his marital status, whether in terms of compensation, promotion opportunities, hiring, termination, or any other significant way.

How Do You Spot It?

Discrimination takes many forms, and not all of them are apparent. We're all on the lookout for signs of prejudice based on color, ethnicity, or religion these days. The more prevalent manifestations of sexism are difficult to overlook. We're all working together to recognize discrimination against people with disabilities.