Under federal employment law, marital status is often not a protected class. However, it is a protected class under state law in around half of the states in the United States. Employers are prohibited from treating you differently based on your marital status where it is a protected class. If they do, you have legal options available to you thanks to employment anti-discrimination legislation.
Read on to learn more. If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed at work due to a protected status, contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 for a legal consultation.
According to federal law, is marital status a protected class?
No, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the main federal employment statute, marital status is not a protected class. Other federal employment laws, however, may designate it as a protected class. These additional laws, however, only apply in a select few situations.
The majority of employers in the US are governed by Title VII, a federal employment statute. It prohibits discrimination at work based on your race, color, religion, sex, or place of birth. The U.S. Supreme Court has enlarged sex discrimination in the workplace to encompass sexual orientation, gender identity, and transgender status, but it does not include marital status.
However, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), another federal statute, prohibits discrimination based on marital status. But only federal government employees are covered by the CSRA.
The Civil Rights Act does not include marital status, hence the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not handle claims of marital status discrimination (EEOC). Instead, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) look into those that occur under the CSRA in the federal government.
Is it covered under state employment laws?
Marital status is listed as a protected class in around half of the states in the United States. You can launch a job discrimination lawsuit based on unfair treatment that is directed at your marital status in jurisdictions where it is a protected class. You cannot in states where it is not a protected class. However, your employer’s actions could still be discriminatory in other ways even if you are unable to assert a claim of marital status discrimination.
Which laws apply in California?
Marital status is a protected class in California. It is a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to treat you differently based on this. Such bias may manifest itself in one of the following ways: refusing to choose you for a training program that would pave the way for career growth, refusing to recruit you, letting you go, demoting you, laying you off, or treating you unfairly with regard to the benefits, terms, or conditions of your employment, such as not paying you equally.
It may be considered job discrimination if your employer hires you based on your marital status. For instance, it may be discriminatory for a prospective employer to inquire about a job applicant’s plans for marriage, maiden name, spouse’s name, age, religion, or other personal information.
However, if the employer can demonstrate in good faith that the attribute is a genuine requirement for the position, such queries are not discriminatory. For instance, in order to conduct a background check or look into your employment history, companies may request all of your previous names. If the company has a policy to keep spouses and other family members apart in order to avoid conflicts of interest, they may also inquire about your relatives.
Have you been discriminated against due to your marriage? Then contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 to get help today.