Parental Status Discrimination

Parental Status Discrimination — State Law

Background
Although various federal statutes prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sex, age, religion, race, color, age, or disability, they do not protect private sector employees from discrimination on the basis of marital status, parental status, or sexual orientation.

State and local laws often duplicate the employment discrimination restrictions set forth in federal statutes like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Many of these state and local laws also afford additional protections to workers in their state or locality.

Although state and local laws protecting workers on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation are quite common, laws protecting workers from discrimination on the basis of their parental status do not widely exist. Nonetheless, these laws are beginning to emerge. This article provides a general overview of standard state or local laws forbidding employment discrimination on the basis of parental status.

State and Local Laws Banning Parental Status Employment Discrimination
States and localities that have some form of law protecting parents from employment discrimination on the basis of their parental status include:

    • Alaska
    • District of Columbia
    • Connecticut
    • South Dakota
    • Atlanta
    • Chicago
    • Harrisburg, PA
  • Dade County, FL

Alaska provides perhaps the most sweeping civil rights protection for parents. Parenthood is listed alongside race, sex, disability, and age as a protected class in the Alaska civil rights statute. This statute forbids discrimination in the workplace on the basis of parenthood when the “reasonable demands of the position” do not require such a distinction. The District of Columbia statute prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of familial status and family responsibilities. These terms are defined in terms of parents caring for minor children. The Connecticut statute forbids employers from asking employees or applicants about their “familial responsibilities,” unless that information is directly related to a bona fide occupational qualification or need. The South Dakota statute prevents employment discrimination based upon familial status.

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