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What is marital status discrimination?

Federal law prohibits numerous types of workplace discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, religion, race, or sex. 

While federal law does not prohibit it, many states outlaw discrimination on the grounds of a person's marital status. California is one of those states. As such, employers cannot make decisions regarding a person's employment on the grounds of whether he or she does or does not have a spouse

How can discrimination take place?

There are several ways a person's employment can become affected due to marital status. For example, an employer could deny employment to people based solely on whether they have a spouse. When it comes to matters of promotions, certain people may not receive any consideration even though they are completely qualified. Occasionally, the roots of the discrimination lie within a characteristic of an employee's spouse. For instance, a person may have a spouse who is a convicted felon, but by law, employers cannot discriminate based on this fact.

How do anti-nepotism rules fit into this?

When it comes to anti-nepotism policies, the law gets a little murky. Some companies have adopted policies forbidding two employees from dating. In many cases, these policies go unchallenged because the two employees would rather keep the relationship under the table than bring the matter to court. 

Anti-nepotism rules can also impact who gets a promotion at a company. As an example, two spouses may work in two different departments at a company. One spouse wants to transfer over to the other spouse's department in a supervisory position. In some instances, the company would not allow this because of the potential conflict of interest. The reason for this mostly comes down to employers not wanting to affect employee morale. However, if people suspect a certain company's anti-nepotism rules go a step too far, they should not hesitate to get in touch with an attorney. 

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