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Under both federal and state laws, you have the right to seek and hold employment without experiencing discrimination in the workplace. However, various types of discrimination happen all too often, including instances based on marital status. In California, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against anyone based on their marital status. If you believe you were passed over for a promotion or not offered a job based on your marital status, speak with an attorney to determine if you can file a lawsuit for damages.
What is Marital Status Discrimination?
Marital status discrimination happens when an employer treats a particular employee or applicant differently based on their marital status. The employee or applicant may be single, married, divorced, widowed, or unmarried with either an opposite-sex or same-sex partner.
If the employer uses this status to influence their decision to hire, promote, provide benefits, discipline, or terminate someone, they are committing marital status discrimination.
What is the Marital Status Discrimination Act?
Marital status discrimination is a violation of both federal and California state law. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is unlawful for any employer to use marital status to:
- Refuse to hire the applicant
- Discharge or terminate the employee
- To refuse to select, to bar, or to discharge the employee from any training program that leads to employment
- Discriminate in ways and amounts of compensation
- Discriminate in conditions, terms, or other privileges of employment
A workplace discrimination attorney can provide you with the full details of the Act and review your specific situation to fully determine whether you are dealing with this type of discrimination in your workplace. It is essential that you know your rights regarding employment and marital status and understand your options on how to proceed if you experience such discrimination in your current job or in a job you have applied for.
What is an Example of Marital Status Discrimination?
While there are many ways an employer can fall foul of this regulation, a typical example of marital status discrimination includes the termination of married co-workers. California anti-discrimination laws state that the marriage of co-workers is not a valid reason to terminate one of them. For instance, a university that fires research professors that happen to be married may be guilty of marital status discrimination.
Other examples of discrimination based on marital status include refusing to hire an unwed mother or single person, skipping over an employee for a promotion because they are in a same-sex marriage, or only offering single employees overtime opportunities during the holidays.
Can My Employer Ask My Marital Status?
California law prohibits employers from asking specific personal questions during a job interview, including religion, race, and marital status.
However, employers may ask about marital status directly or indirectly in some instances, including:
- To check an applicant’s former work experience, employers may ask for any other names used. This may reveal marital status, but the employer cannot directly ask for a maiden name.
- Per FEHA, employers are granted a specific exception allowing them to ask whether the same employer employs an applicant’s spouse. Limitations apply here in how the employer can use this information. Usually, it involves supervision, a potential conflict of interest, safety, security, or morale issues only.
- If marital status information is imperative to the actual occupational qualification. The employer must prove this is vital information in the hiring process for a specific type of position.
It is essential to stay diligent in interviews and conversations with employers. Casual conversation is often used to elicit personal information such as marital status. If you believe this is happening to you, consult with a marital discrimination lawyer to determine if you have a claim against the employer.
How Do You Prove Marital Status Discrimination?
Marital status discrimination can be subtle and hard to identify. However, sometimes it is blatant and intrusive. You will need to observe and document any signs that lead you to believe you are employed in a marital status discrimination workplace.
For successful marital status discrimination cases, you need to prove:
- You, the employee, fall within a particular classification of marital status (i.e., single, divorced, etc.)
- Your overall job performance was rated as satisfactory, or you were clearly qualified for a job but were not hired for it.
- You were subjected to some discriminatory conduct (e.g., not promoted or discharged from employment)
- Other employees falling under different marital classifications (i.e., married) did not receive discriminatory actions from the employer. For example, married workers with similar qualifications retained their positions while a single employee was terminated.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California handles marital discrimination in the workplace complaints. According to the DFEH’s workplace discrimination statistics, marital status discrimination complaints continue to rise each year.
You need to complete the DFEH complaint process before you can file a lawsuit. Once you’ve filed a discriminatory complaint, an investigation will start to determine the viability of your case.
You also have the option to work with an employment discrimination attorney who will file your DFEH complaint and receive an immediate right-to-sue notice. This action eliminates the wait for the completion of the administrative process and investigation. Instead, your legal team will work to prove your claim in the California Supreme Court.
In addition, your marital status discrimination California attorney will seek higher compensation than the state agency, negotiate for a larger settlement, and represent you in court if no satisfactory settlement is reached.
The employment law attorneys with Berberian Ain, LLP are here to answer your questions about marital status discrimination and help you file and prove your case.
Win Your Marital Status Discrimination Case With Berberian Ain LLP
When looking for a lawyer for marital discrimination in the workplace, look no further than California-based Berberian Ain, LLP. We work closely with our clients on employment matters and develop the necessary litigation strategies to be successful in workplace marital status discrimination cases. Give our experienced law office a call today at (818) 808-0048 to schedule your free consultation.