Even in today’s day and age, women, parents, single dads, and same-sex couples – many face discrimination every day in the workplace. While strides are being made to narrow the wage gap between men and women, another factor that continues to contribute to the divide is familial status.

In New York, discrimination based on marital status is prohibited. But if it happens to you, who can you turn to? The discrimination and civil rights attorneys of Bantle & Levy LLP.

What Is Familial and Marital Status Discrimination?

Marital status discrimination, also called familial status discrimination, is discrimination based on whether an employee is married or single, or whether they have children. In addition, discrimination may occur if someone is unmarried and has children.

Marital status discrimination may occur when an employer denies an employee employment or promotions, harasses, pays less, or otherwise takes negative employment action against an employee because of the employee’s status as a parent or as a single or married person.

Examples of familial status discrimination include:

  • Employment denial (despite qualifications) due to pregnancy or status as an unmarried parent
  • Being passed for a promotion because an employer believes the employee will soon become pregnant and stop working as efficiently
  • Being terminated after notifying an employer that the employee has become pregnant
  • Being married to someone who works at the company or used to work at the company
  • Being terminated after utilizing the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a sick child
  • Facing unfair treatment after using the Paid Family Leave policy after giving birth
  • Being treated unfairly for leaving work early for a child’s event while employees without children are given more flexibility for time off usage

Laws Protecting Against Familial and Marital Status Discrimination

There is no federal law that protects against discrimination based on marital status or parental status. However, some forms of adverse conduct that might otherwise constitute marital status discrimination may still violate Title VII. For example:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on color, national origin, race, religion, and sex.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits unequal pay on the basis of sex.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

While these federal laws and others offer protections against marital status discrimination, there are state and local laws that do more explicitly prohibit family status discrimination.

Under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), “The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination because of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, marital status, or disability, is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right.”

Under the NYSHRL, the above protections also apply to any person who is pregnant or has children under the age of 18 to whom they are a caregiver. A caregiver is defined as someone who provides direct and continuous care for minor children or someone who has a disability that lives in the employee’s household.

Furthermore, The New York City Human Rights Law offers protections to employees in New York City that are based upon their marital status and partnership status, as well as pregnancy and lactation accommodations.

Knowing which laws to apply to your case will be determined with the help of a New York employment and discrimination attorney.

Facing Familial and Marital Status Discrimination? Call Bantle & Levy LLP.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least one parent was employed in 88.5 percent of families with children, and among married couples with children, 95.3 percent had at least one employed parent in 2020, and 59.8 percent had both parents employed.

Obviously, the workforce is family-based and needs to accommodate those needs. But when your employer treats you unfairly because of your family or marital status, know that you have options.

Contact Bantle & Levy LLP today to learn more.

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