Divorced Moms at Work
Do you have the feeling that you may have been discriminated against because you were a divorced mom? You aren't alone. Marital status discrimination against moms is a common problem across the board. Many women have found themselves unable to find work because of their marital status. It seems like this kind of discrimination should be illegal, and in some cases it is. However, you may be surprised to learn that marital status discrimination is perfectly within the bounds of the law in some states.
Women with Children
Have you ever sat down for a job interview and been asked, "Are you married?" or "Do you have kids?" You may have wondered at the time what that had to do with your qualifications or experience. Your marital status doesn't affect your ability to perform your job, yet, in many places, there is nothing stopping interviewers from asking you about it.Fewer than half of states in America prohibit potential employers from asking about marital status. What does that mean for divorced moms who work? Potentially it could signify that they will have a more difficult time getting a job. A 2006 study found that divorced mothers were more than 20% more likely to be unemployed than their married counterparts. The statistics are even grimmer for minorities, with divorced African American momshaving the highest rates of unemployment.
Discrimination Against Single MomsWhy do companies discriminate against single moms? The reasons range from simple ignorance to unjust moral judgments to cold hard cash. Some companies feel those divorced moms are more expensive to hire because they are more likely to use time off, sick leave, and health insurance coverage. While this may or may not be true, it doesn't justify discrimination. Sadly, many people feel that the "benefits" they receive from work are actually unavailable to them because their employer doesn't really want employees to use them. Consequentially, those who really need those benefits, like working moms, are hired less often.
What to do about Marital Status Discrimination
If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your marital status or family situation, it may be difficult to prove your case. In most states, a divorced or single woman can only make a claim of marital status discrimination if she can prove that similar action was taken by the company against a man in a similar position—often an impossible task.
Deal with Marital Status Discrimination
- Write to your legislator about creating an anti-marital status discrimination law in your state. There may already be a group of like-minded people trying to achieve this in your area. Do some research and try to find them.
- Confront your employer about your suspicions. Remain calm and state your case using facts. It's possible your company doesn't even realize its policies are discriminatory. Try to work out a solution before threatening legal action.
- If you feel that your case is impossible to solve on your own, consider consulting with a lawyer to see if you could take the issue to the courts.
Whatever you do, don't let discrimination against divorced moms get you down. This problem needs strong, competent women that are willing to fight for what's right and what's fair.