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Marital Status Discrimination


The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions, licensing agencies, and other persons from discriminating against you as an employee, job applicant, or licensing applicant because of your membership in specific protected categories, including marital status.

Marital status is the status of being married, single, divorced, separated, or widowed. Going through a divorce or filing for divorce does not change your marital status from being married.

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint is 300 days from the date the action was taken or you became aware the action was taken.

What actions are covered?

State law protects workers from discrimination in discharge, job assignments, leave or benefits, licensing, retirement benefits, hiring, pay, promotion, training, and other employment actions on the basis of your marital status.

The law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against you if you assert your rights under the law. Employers are also responsible for ensuring that you are not harassed on the job because of your membership in any protected class.

Specifically, the law prohibits discrimination in:

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any exceptions to discrimination based on marital status?

Yes. An employer's policy or practice prohibiting you from directly supervising or being directly supervised by your spouse is not marital status discrimination.

You and your spouse work at the same place and you believe you are being treated differently. Is it marital status discrimination?

It could be marital status discrimination if an employment action is taken against you because of your status of being married in general rather than your status of being married to a particular person. The prohibition on discrimination on the basis of marital status does not extend to the particular identity, personal characteristics, or actions of your spouse. In other words, it is not marital status discrimination to treat you differently because of who your spouse is.

Your employer has a non-duplication policy and limits married coworkers to health insurance coverages under one family plan. Is that lawful?

If you have a government or public employer, the employer may limit married employees to one family health insurance policy without violating the law.

May an employer ask about your marital status?

The law prohibits an inquiry that implies or expresses any limitation because of a protected basis, including marital status.

An employer may make pre-employment inquiries and keep employment records to determine statistically the age, race, color, creed, sex, national origin, ancestry or marital status of applicants and employees. Pre-employment inquiries and employment records which tend directly or indirectly to disclose such information do not constitute unlawful discrimination per se.

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