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What Is Marital Status Discrimination?

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marital status discrimination in the workplace
In New Jersey, workers have a right to fair treatment regardless of their marital status. However, some employees may face discrimination based on whether they are single, married, divorced, or widowed. This is known as marital status discrimination. Marital status discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or potential employee differently because of their marital status. It involves making employment decisions based on whether someone is married, single, divorced, separated, or widowed rather than their qualifications or performance. This discriminatory practice is unlawful under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).

Examples of Marital Status Discrimination

To better understand this form of discrimination, here are several examples:
  • Hiring bias: An employer may refuse to hire a qualified candidate because they are married, believing they may not devote enough time to the job due to family commitments.
  • Promotion denial: A single employee might be overlooked for a promotion in favor of a married colleague based on the misconstrued notion that marriage signifies stability.
  • Pay disparity: A divorced employee may receive a lower salary than their married counterparts performing similar tasks.
  • Workplace harassment: Employees may be subjected to offensive comments or jokes about their marital status.

Rights of Workers in New Jersey

Under the NJLAD, employers cannot discriminate against workers based on their marital status in any aspect of employment. These aspects include hiring, firing, promotions, pay, job assignments, and training. Therefore, regardless of whether you are single, married, divorced, separated, or widowed, your employer must treat you equally with respect to these employment aspects. The New Jersey Supreme Court broadly defined “marital status” as “more than the state of being single or married.” It includes being engaged, separated, undergoing a divorce, divorced, or widowed. This broad definition protects employees from discrimination based on any change in their marital status. The NJLAD also protects you from harassment based on your marital status. If an employer, supervisor, coworker, or even a customer subjects you to offensive comments or jokes about your marital status, it can constitute harassment, a form of discrimination.

What to Do if Your Rights Have Been Violated?

If you believe your rights have been violated due to marital status discrimination, it is essential to know the steps to take to protect yourself and seek justice. Here’s a detailed guide on what you can do:
  • Document everything: Start by documenting every incident of discrimination or harassment. Include dates, times, locations, people involved, and the nature of each incident. Be as detailed as possible and include direct quotes if possible. This documentation will be crucial evidence if you file a complaint or lawsuit.
  • Report the incident: Report each incident to your supervisor, HR department, or any other appropriate authority within your organization. Ensure that you follow your company’s policies for reporting discrimination. Keep copies of these reports, as they will be part of your evidence.
  • Preserve evidence: Save all relevant emails, text messages, performance reviews, or any other documents that may support your claim of marital status discrimination. This evidence can further reinforce your case.
  • Keep a record of your work performance: Maintaining records of your work performance can help refute any attempts by your employer to justify discriminatory actions based on your job performance. Include any positive feedback, awards, or commendations you have received.
  • Seek support from co-workers: If your co-workers have witnessed discrimination, ask them to provide statements supporting your claims. Their testimonials can corroborate your experiences and add weight to your case.
  • File a complaint: If you decide to proceed, your lawyer can assist you in filing a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) within 180 days of the discriminatory act.

Our South Jersey Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Can Help if You Experienced Marital Status Discrimination

Marital status discrimination is not just unfair—it is illegal. If you believe your rights have been violated, speak with our South Jersey employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.

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