Male employee putting his wedding ring back on his finger

Combatting Marital Status Discrimination

A number of states have laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of an employee’s marital status. In Minnesota, marital status discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their marital status, whether they are single, married, remarried, divorced, separated, or widowed. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, employees are also protected against discrimination “on the basis of the identity, situation, actions, or beliefs of a spouse or former spouse.” Like other forms of workplace discrimination, marital status discrimination can result in unfair treatment, hinder career progression, and create a hostile work environment.

Recognizing Marital Status Discrimination

Marital status discrimination can manifest itself in various ways. It might be present in hiring practices, where employers prefer or avoid potential employees based on their marital status or because of the identity of their spouse or former spouse. It could also show up in promotion decisions or assignments of job duties, where assumptions about an individual's commitment or availability based on their marital status can influence professional opportunities.

For instance, a single person may be overlooked for a promotion because of an unfounded assumption that they are less stable or reliable than their married colleagues. Conversely, married individuals might be denied opportunities because of the presumption that they have or will potentially have familial obligations that could interfere with their job performance.

The Implications of Marital Status Discrimination

Marital status discrimination can be profound, leading to lost opportunities, decreased job satisfaction, reduced productivity, and even mental health issues. Moreover, it fosters an unfair and unbalanced workplace, undermining the principle of making employment decisions based on performance versus one’s protected status.

Standing Up for Your Rights

If you believe you have been a victim of marital status discrimination, it's crucial to understand your rights and options. Document incidents of discrimination, noting dates, times, locations, people involved, and what was said or done. Documentation can be essential if you file a formal complaint or legal claim.

Next, familiarize yourself with your company's policies on discrimination and follow the prescribed procedures for reporting discrimination. If your employer fails to address your complaints satisfactorily or if retaliation occurs, it may be time to consult with a legal professional.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Workplace discrimination based on marital status is illegal under various state and local laws. If you've experienced discrimination and your employer has failed to take appropriate action, it can be important to seek legal help.

The employment attorneys at Nichols Kaster PLLP are committed to advocating for employees unfairly treated due to marital status discrimination. With extensive experience in employment law, we can provide the guidance and representation necessary to protect an employee’s rights, hold those responsible accountable, and ensure justice is served.

Remember, standing against marital status discrimination isn't just about protecting your individual rights; it's about fostering a fairer, more inclusive workplace for everyone. Stand up, speak out, and seek the justice you deserve. Contact Nichols Kaster PLLP to get started.