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Marital Status Discrimination

An employee cannot be treated indifferently because of his/her marital status. If the employer discriminates against an applicant or employee because he/she is married, widowed, divorced, single, or unmarried with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner, it is in violation of state and federal law.

At the time of a job interview, the applicant cannot be asked questions that would point to marital status or family orientation. Questions such as “Are you married?” “Do you have a family?” “What is your maiden name?” “Are you pregnant?” or “Do you plan to have a family?” are in violation of the law and can be used for a lawsuit.

Marital status discrimination can be accompanied by other forms of discrimination, such as parental status, pregnancy, or sex discrimination.

At the workplace, the employee cannot be treated differently because of his/her marital status. There should be no discrimination at the time of assignment of work, promotions, wages, benefits, etc. Here’s an example of discrimination because of marital status:The employer sets different hours of work for single and married employees, or promotes a married employee because he/she may be more responsible. Sometimes the employer may not offer health insurance coverage to single employees with domestic partners, but provides the coverage to spouses and families of married employees.

Marital status discrimination is not covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, many federal government employees are covered by provisions in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 that prohibit marital status discrimination. Some states and cities also have statutes prohibiting marital status discrimination.

In the federal government the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), as amended, prohibits federal employees who have authority to take—or to direct others to take, recommend or approve—any personnel action discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or political affiliation, and from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on "conduct" to include discrimination based on sexual orientati.

The Office of Special Council (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation, or conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee—none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction.

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