Workplace marital status discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee is treated unfavorably because of their marital status – whether they are single, married, divorced or widowed. In California, where employee rights are stringently protected, marital status is an expressly protected immutable characteristic that employers are prohibited from discriminating against.
Marital status discrimination can manifest in various forms. It may involve hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, training, benefits or any other terms of employment. For example, an employer might prefer unmarried employees for certain roles, assuming they have fewer family responsibilities, or conversely, might discriminate against single employees by denying them certain benefits offered to married colleagues. It’s important to understand that this discrimination can be overt or subtle.
Addressing marital status discrimination
California is one of the few states in the U.S. that explicitly prohibits marital status discrimination in the workplace. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers cannot discriminate against employees based on marital status, along with other protected categories such as race, religion and gender However, workers’ rights don’t matter much if workers are not aware of what they are and how to exercise them.
If you’re a worker in California, be on the lookout for signs of marital status discrimination. It can range from direct comments about marital status to more indirect actions, like consistently overlooking someone for promotions or training opportunities.
If you’re being discriminated against, keep a detailed record including dates, times, what was said or done and any witnesses. Documentation is critical in substantiating your claims. You’ll then want to report it to your supervisor or human resources department. Follow your company’s procedures for filing a discrimination complaint.
If internal reporting does not resolve the issue, or if you face retaliation for reporting, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and speak with an attorney.
To learn more, don’t hesitate to contact the dedicated legal team at Licata & Yeremenko today for more information. Seeking personalized legal guidance is often the best way to ensure that you’re making informed decisions about your unique circumstances.