Fighting Marital Status Discrimination In The Workplace In New Jersey
An employee’s marital status should never influence an employer’s decision to hire, promote, or terminate the employee, nor should it affect how much that employee is paid. However, marital status discrimination in the workplace continues to be an issue for New Jersey employees. This type of discrimination includes refusing to hire someone due to a current or potential pregnancy, either planned or assumed. Additionally, a widow cannot be declined work due to needing their own benefits.
Marital status discrimination often overlaps with other forms of employment discrimination, including but not limited to:
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Maternity Leave Discrimination
- Gender Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
- LGBT Status / Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Pumping & Breastfeeding in the Workplace
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
With offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has experience in representing employees who have been terminated, demoted, or otherwise negatively treated because of their marital status. If you have been the target of marital status discrimination, your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering. Our experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers can get you the compensation you deserve.
Recognizing Marital Status Discrimination During the Interview Process
Discrimination based on marital status can be hard to recognize, and even more difficult to prove. Many employers will ask an applicant questions about their marital or family status, which is inappropriate and may violate the law. While this line of questioning may appear to be casual conversation, it may actually be intended to screen applicants who are married, single, widowed, or separated. Pre-employment questions that may be discriminatory include:
- Child care arrangements
- Marital status
- Number of children and their ages
- Future plans to bear children
- Whether the applicant is currently pregnant
- Employment status of spouse
While these questions are not definitively discriminatory, they do raise red flags, especially when an otherwise qualified candidate is passed over for a position. In general, these questions should not be asked until after a position is offered, in relation to health insurance, benefits, or for other legitimate business reasons. They should not be asked as part of the screening process for a potential hire. While socially awkward, applicants have the right to keep information about their marital and family status confidential through the screening and interview process.
Protections Against Marital Status Discrimination Under NJ State Law
In New Jersey, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) provides protection to employees and job applicants from unlawful discrimination based on one’s marital status, single status, familial status, domestic partnership or civil union status, in addition to other protected classifications. Because New Jersey takes employment discrimination so seriously, employees can pursue legal remedies under the NJLAD if they have faced discriminatory treatment at work.
Federal Protections Against Marital Status Discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers federal protections against employment discrimination for certain protected classifications including age, sexual orientation, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, and genetic information. These protections also protect against marital status discrimination, though not explicitly. While this type of discrimination is not directly covered under the laws enforced by the EEOC, there are several circumstances in which the protections that are provided by the EEOC apply. Most notably, gender discrimination and pregnancy discrimination are often cited in filed claims.
Marital Status and Gender Discrimination
Gender discrimination is also closely related to marital status discrimination claims. Oftentimes, marital status is taken into consideration when the employee is a woman, as opposed to a man. This is especially true when a woman is not promoted after she is married because her employer assumes that she will decide to start a family and will not be able to handle a significant workload. However, other employers may feel that married women should stay home with her children, and these employees may be demoted or terminated based on that view. Other employers may not provide female employees with adequate raises, promotions, or benefits because these employers assume that their husbands are the household providers.
Pregnancy and Marital Status Discrimination
Pregnancy is considered a disability by the definition provided by the EEOC, which directly protects pregnant individuals from being passed over for positions they otherwise qualify for, being demoted either upon learning they are pregnant or their return from maternity leave, being passed over for a promotion they are qualified for, or other wage and hour cuts on the basis of their pregnancy.
What is Considered Marital Status Discrimination in New Jersey?
Marital status discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, and can occur between an employee and an employer, coworker, or client. Common examples of this type of harassment include the following actions based on an employee’s marital status or family status:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
Experienced New Jersey Marital Status Discrimination Lawyers Can Help You
Proving a case can be difficult, so choosing the right attorney and pursuing the most advantageous legal theory is critical – this may be the difference between receiving a fair resolution and receiving no justice. Our skilled employment lawyers can help review your prospective marital status discrimination claim and develop a personalized approach.
If you have been discriminated against for your marital status or family status in the workplace, or faced retaliation for making a complaint, contact the lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. today. We have offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ and serve clients throughout the state. We can discuss your situation with you and help you determine the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve.