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Can You Be Wrongfully Terminated Based On Marital Status?

April 16, 2024 Legal Team

If you’re employed as a W2 worker in California, you may be unsure of all the rights you are afforded and how you’re protected in your employment when on the job. 

In this guide, we’ll be discussing how California protects the rights of employees based on aspects of their identity, such as their marital status. 

If you have questions for Orange County’s top employment law attorneys at Aegis Law, give us a call at (949) 822-9220. 

Can You Be Wrongfully Terminated Based On Marital Status?

Marital Status In California

Like in many states, marital status is a legal classification that has a specific definition governed by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission. As dictated by Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 2, § 11053, marital status is defined as “an individual’s state of marriage, non-marriage, divorce or dissolution, separation, widowhood, annulment, or other marital state.” 

Marital Status As A Protected Class

In the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal to discriminate against a worker due to their marital status, as dictated by Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a).

However, the act clearly states that employers are not prohibited from regulating spouses and their assignments “for reasons of supervision, safety, security, or morale, the working of spouses in the same department, division, or facility, consistent with the rules and regulations adopted by the council.”

Can I Be Wrongfully Terminated Based On Marital Status? 

Therefore, based on the information outlined above: yes, a California employee can be wrongfully terminated based on marital status. Even though California is an at-will state (meaning that employees can be terminated from employment without warning), it cannot be because of discrimination against a protected class, like marital status.

For an employee to claim wrongful termination based on marital status, an employee must fit the following specifics in their case:


  • Have a specific marital status (i.e., divorced),
  • Have a satisfactory job performance,
  • Was terminated,
  • Other employees without a specific marital status (i.e. people who were not divorced) were not terminated – even if they had worse job performance. 

As an example, a divorced employee was fired despite good job performance. None of their coworkers has the same divorced marital status, and they were not terminated. This employee could have a wrongful termination case to bring in Orange County court or as part of settlement proceedings. 

If I’m Wrongfully Terminated Based On Marital Status, What Do I Do? 

First, it’s important to contact an experienced Orange County employment lawyer as soon as you think you may have a case. According to the statute of limitations governing California wrongful termination cases, victims generally only have two years to file a complaint, although some circumstances may extend this to three years. 

An Orange County wrongful termination lawyer, like the skilled ones at Aegis Law, would help you explore your next steps after being wrongfully terminated in California. 

As the average settlement for a wrongful termination case is approximately $40,000, never settle for less. At Aegis Law, we encourage our wrongful termination and dismissal victims to seek maximum compensation to cover their justified pain and suffering. 

Still have questions about some of the content covered in this blog? We’ve got answers. Contact the Aegis Law team today at (949) 822-9220 and we’d be happy to go over the finer details in your case.