California employment law protects workers from discrimination based on their marital status. The Sempers Law Firm, in Los Angeles, California, helps protect California employees' rights to be free from marital status discrimination in the workplace.
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Does California prohibit marital status discrimination?
Although there is no federal statute prohibiting discrimination based on marital status, California law does provide this protection. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee - or even a potential employee - based on that person's marital status.
Examples of marital status discrimination
Like other forms of discrimination, marital status discrimination occurs whenever the "terms and conditions" of employment change based on a person's marital status. Common examples include:
Hiring and firing decisions
Promotions and opportunities for advancement
Scheduling and duty assignments
Unfair disciplinary action
When spouses work in the same department or work for each other, who regulates marital status discrimination?
When spouses work in the same department, the company still has a legal obligation to prevent discrimination based on their marriage. For example: suppose the company wants to reassign one spouse to ensure productivity within the department. So long as the transfer comes with equal pay, benefits, opportunities for advancement, and other conditions of employment, this is allowed. But if the company tried to demote one spouse, this would be unlawful discrimination based on the marriage. The company's HR department still has a legal obligation to regulate marital status discrimination in that department.
It might sound strange, but it is still possible to face marital status discrimination even when you work for your spouse. Imagine a small family business that two spouses own. If they divorce, it is likely that they will not want to work together any longer. But if they do, neither spouse can fire the other solely on the basis of divorce. This would be unlawful employment discrimination based on marital status. If the company's HR or legal departments does not stop it, the discrimination can be regulated by bringing a lawsuit against the family business.