Employment laws prohibit employers from engaging in marital status discrimination. Marital status discrimination and harassment happen when a supervisor, co-worker, clients, or an employer discriminates against an employee based on his or her marital status. Employers cannot treat an employee differently because of his or her status as a single, married or divorced individual. Discrimination based on marital status can happen at any stage in the employment process, from the interview process to termination of employment.
Individuals who experience this type of discrimination may have a right to remedies. The New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law prohibit employers from discriminating based on marital status. Individuals who’ve faced marital status discrimination can file a claim in New York. Successful claimants might be entitled to compensatory damages, including pay for emotional distress and any back pay if the employer terminated the employee.
In some instances, claimants may be entitled to a reinstatement of their position if their employer terminated their position. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our skilled employment attorneys have helped many clients successfully file claims. Contact our New York City employment attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.
How to File a Marital Status Discrimination Claim in New York
New York State’s Human Rights Law mirrors Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law. Title VII protects employees from certain types of workplace discrimination; however, it does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on marital status. New York State’s human rights law does prohibit discrimination based on marital status. Similarly, New York City’s human rights law likewise bans discrimination based on marital status.
Individuals who’ve suffered marital status discrimination may have a right to file a discrimination claim with the New York Division of Human Rights (DHR). Employees who work or worked in New York City when the discrimination took place may also file a discrimination claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. These agencies cooperate to process discrimination claims.
Examples of Marital Status Discrimination
Marital status discrimination in the workplace can take many different forms. In some instances, employers discriminate against employees based on their spouse’s opinions or political beliefs. An employer cannot terminate an employee’s employment because the employer disagrees with the opinions, ideas or religion of the employee’s spouse. When both employees work for the same company, an employer cannot retaliate against one spouse for the actions taken by another spouse. If an employer terminates one spouse for cause, it cannot retaliate against the other spouse by terminating his or her position in retaliation.
Similarly, employers cannot discriminate against a job applicant based on his or her marital status. An employer cannot ask an employee if he or she is married and then refuse to offer the applicant a position based on his or her answer. A potential employer who spends significant time discussing marital and parenting status in job interviews might be engaging in systematic marital status discrimination.
Employers should not consider marital status when determining whether or not to offer an employee a promotion. Assuming that an employee’s status as a married spouse will cause the employee to place her spousal obligations above work obligations is another example. This assumption could cause an employer to deny a promotion or refuse to hire a married employee because he or she is married.
Proving Marital Status Discrimination Based on Employer Practices
Proving discrimination is more manageable when an employer makes a statement such as “we want to give the promotion to an employee without any family responsibilities because the job requires a lot of travel.” However, proving marital discrimination can be challenging when employers don’t state the reason they are not hiring the employee or denying a promotion. It is possible to demonstrate that an employer is engaging in marital status discrimination even in the absence of a direct statement. For example, employers who have a history of only promoting single employees may be engaging in discrimination.
New York City Has One of the Broadest Anti-Retaliation Laws in the Country
Additionally, New York City’s human rights law provides one of the broadest anti-retaliation provisions in the United States. New York City employers cannot retaliate against employees who complain about marital status discrimination in the workplace. To file an anti-retaliation claim in New York City, an employee only needs to have a good faith belief that his or her employer discriminated against her because of a discrimination complaint. Employees do not need to show proof that discrimination existed to file a claim.
Remedies Available for Marital Status Discrimination
Under New York State’s Human Rights Law, victims of marital status discrimination may have a right to receive several different types of damages and remedies. Successful claimants may be entitled to compensatory damages for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Employees who have suffered a termination of their job may be entitled to back pay. New York State does not limit the amount of compensatory damages to which victims are entitled. Additionally, the New York State human rights law provides reinstatement of employment as a remedy.
New York City’s Human Rights Law does not impose a limit on the amount of compensatory damages to which a claimant is entitled. And New York City’s law permits the recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and punitive damages. Reinstatement of the employee’s position, back pay, and front pay are also available under the New York City law.
The Employment Attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP Can Help
The skilled employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP have a deep understanding of all relevant discrimination laws. Our experienced attorneys can help employees who’ve faced discrimination determine the best way to seek compensation for discrimination. Contact our New York City employment law firm today to discuss how our experienced discrimination attorneys can help you.