WRITER: Maggie O’Brien CLIENT: Joseph DiPietro
TITLE: Can I lose my job for getting divorced?
KEYWORDS: Workplace discrimination, divorce law, Virginia divorce lawyer, fired for getting divorce, family law
It can be hurtful to notice a little hint of judgement flash across some people’s faces when you tell them you’re going through a tough divorce. Those feelings and worries likely will pass sooner rather than later, thankfully.
But what happens if you’re judged so harshly at work that it ends up threatening your job? Can someone get fired for getting divorced in Virginia?
They can’t. Federal law protects all employees from discrimination based on a handful of factors, including race, sex, religion, disability and genetic information. Enforced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers with at least 15 to 20 employees must comply with the law.
Virginia law protects employees from discrimination to comply with federal law. But the state takes it a step further by also banning discrimination based on marital status. Employers with at least six employees are subject to Virginia’s state laws that prohibit discrimination, according to the state Attorney General’s Office division of human rights.
A judge in New Jersey this summer ruled in favor of a man who sued his former employer for wrongful discrimination for being fired after he told his supervisor about his upcoming divorce.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the plaintiff informed his boss at the nonprofit he worked for that he was having an affair with one of the group’s volunteers. He also mentioned that he was separated and in the process of getting divorced, the newspaper reported.
The Journal reported that the supervisor was fearful of an “ugly divorce,” and had cited “corporate restructuring” and plaintiff’s poor job performance as grounds for the termination. The plaintiff believed that he was fired because of his marital status.
The case went to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which concluded that the man was protected by New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits an employer from “imposing conditions of employment that have no relationship to the tasks assigned to and expected of an employee.” The state, the justices held, bars employers from discriminating against employees as well as job applicants because they are single, married or “transitioning from one state to another,” the Journal reported.
The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.