Q: I saw a news story about Mommy profiling at job interviews. I've felt that there has been Singles profiling in some of my job interviews. Is that legal?
While there are no published studies focusing on Singles profiling in job interviews, marital status is certainly a subject an employer should not ask about. There are several categories which employers must avoid because basing an employment decision on any one of them is discriminatory: Race, Color, Sex, Religion, National Origin, Birthplace, Age, Disability and, Marital/family status. Clearly the primary issue in this last category is most often focused on protecting women with children or planning to have children and persons with family obligations that an employer might perceive would get in the way of work hours. While an employer may ask about your availability, they are not entitled to ask about your family circumstances.
Though marital status discrimination is not covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many government employees may be protected by other provisions including the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), and a number of states and cities have statutes or ordinances specifically prohibiting marital status discrimination. While an employer may discuss availability or general plans for the future to gauge a person's commitment level, one cannot ask about pregnancy plans, lack thereof or marital status even if the inquiries as to marital status are to establish perceived home stability. And if you have a loved one at home for whom you are the sole caretaker, that is also off limits as far as inquiries.
Singles in the workplace often find that they are "volunteered" or requested to work overtime or additional hours, as opposed to others in the office, that may or may not be compensated. This too is an inappropriate request/demand by an employer, and if you feel uncomfortable with this circumstance you are encouraged to speak to a Human Resources manager about your concerns. As marital status discrimination in the workplace can be a gray area, it is also suggested that you document any perceived indiscretion so that should you need to seek legal counsel you will be armed with proper documentation of your claims.
DISCLAIMER: This publication is distributed with the understanding that it does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship by way of any information contained herein. The information provided is for general purposes only, as readers are advised to consult with a qualified lawyer regarding the specifics of their particular circumstances.