Is it illegal to be fired over a divorce?

UPDATED: Feb 13, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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