Do You Have a Case?

A Guide to Employment Discrimination: Marital Status

Why do you believe the discrimination happened because of your Marital Status?

  1. Do you know someone whose marital status is different and was treated better than you in the same situation?
  2. Were you required to perform certain duties or excluded from certain activities, while those whose marital status is different received more favorable treatment?
  3. Were questions asked or comments made about your marital status when the discrimination took place?

NO, none of these sounds like my situation.

YES, at least one of these fits my situation.


What are examples of discrimination based on marital status?

Whether you are married, single, or divorced, it is a violation of the Human Rights Act for an employer to treat you differently because of your marital status.

Some specific examples:

It is unlawful for an employer to ask whether or not you are married during a job interview, or to assume that your marital status has anything to do with your willingness to travel if the job requires it. Employers can't refuse to provide insurance benefits because an employee’s spouse has coverage (but there are laws spelling out exactly how this works).

It is generally unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire you because your spouse also works for the organization, unless the employer can demonstrate that the relationship between your jobs would constitute a conflict of interest. Marital status includes "the situation of one's spouse" and if you think this is a factor, you should contact the Department of Human Rights about the situation.

Why are these questions (about the reason for the discrimination) important?

The state Human Rights Act doesn't protect against unfair treatment that happened to a member of a protected class (such as a person of a certain race or sex) — unless that treatment happened because the person was a member of that protected class.

One way to help prove that the treatment happened because you are a member of a protected class is to show that other people who were of a different class (such as a different race or sex) weren't subjected to the same treatment.

But I know what happened and why... can't you take my word for it?

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is a neutral investigative agency. It's our job to impartially investigate charges of discrimination, and determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that the events a charging party alleges happened — and that they happened because of the charging party's protected class status.

Like any investigative agency, we look for evidence. The more specific information you can give us — including the names of witnesses — the better we can investigate your charge.