Leslie Dalton


Over 40 years ago, states began enacting anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination based on marital status. Marital status discrimination is often implicated by employers' no-spouse or antinepotism policies. Claims of marital status discrimination can also arise from an employer taking adverse action against a prospective or current employee solely because the employee is married, unmarried, or going through a divorce. Without federal guidance on marital status discrimination, states treat claims quite differently and take varied stances on the proper scope of marital status protection. Some states apply broad coverage to marital status discrimination, while other states adopt a narrow approach. This unpredictability among the states affects both employers and employees, and it has resulted in unclear expectations as to marital status discrimination law.

This Comment will discuss the current law and varied interpretations of marital status discrimination among the states and the need for federal protection of marital status discrimination. This Comment will propose that Congress amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include marital status as a proscribed basis for unlawful discrimination by employers. A Title VII amendment would provide a clear definition of the scope of marital status protection and promote uniformity among the states to ensure that employer policies comply with marital status discrimination laws and protect employees from unlawful discrimination based on marital status.



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