Marital Status Discrimination in Minnesota

Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, an employer may not discriminate against an applicant or an employee because of that individual’s marital status.267 An individual’s marital status includes whether that individual is single, married, remarried, divorced, separated or a surviving spouse. The prohibition against marital status discrimination also specifically includes protection against discrimination on the basis of the identity, situation, actions or beliefs of a spouse or former spouse.268

For example, an employer may not have a policy of not hiring spouses of current employees. If the spouse of an employee is politically active in an organization with which the employer does not agree, the employer may not fire its employee because it does not like the opinions of the employee’s spouse. Another example of marital status discrimination in Minnesota would be where the employee is transferred to another city and the employee’s spouse refuses to move to the other city. The employer may not discharge the employee because his or her spouse refuses to move to the new location.269

268. Minn. Stat. § 363A.03, subd. 24 (2007).
269. Counters v. Farmland Indus., Inc., No. C3-88-1158, 1988 WL 134800 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 20, 1988).