Is it illegal to be fired over a divorce?

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Is it illegal to be fired over a divorce?

I am working for my wife’s uncle and he is threating to fire me because I want a divorce.

Asked on February 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it appears that you can be fired for this reason:

1) As a general matter, federal law does not protect family or marital status--discrimination in employment is barred due to an race, religion, age over 40, disability, or sex, but not based on whether you are married, divorced, etc.

2) Many states will go further than federal law and bar discrimination based on marital  or family status; however, AL does not, so there appears to be no help there.

3) Even if discrimination on the basis of marital status were barred, an employer could still likely terminate you due to a divorce if it can show some reason beyond "discriminating" against you due to the divorce. If the employer is your wife's uncle, he could likely show that family relationships, avoiding disruption and getting the workplace entangled in a divorce, etc. would require him to terminate you if you divorce his neice; this is a very different situation from him threatening to fire a person over a divorce, when that person has no other connection to him or his family.


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