Spousal Jealousy: Is It Employment Discrimination?

When does spousal jealousy cross the line in the workplace? Can it lead to workplace discrimination?

A recent case out of Pennsylvania discusses the issue. In Sztroin v. PennWestIndus Trucks, LLC, a woman filed a lawsuit against a forklift dealership, alleging that she had been fired because the president of the company’s wife did not want him working with any women. The wife was also an employee of the company.

The woman who filed the lawsuit said that over the course of her employment, she noticed that the president would treat her differently than male employees. He avoided eye contact, excluded her from meetings and told his vice president to bar her from entering his office or speaking to her directly.

She was fired shortly afterward. The president noted that she was an excellent employee, but that his wife did not approve of her presence in the workplace.

Is this discrimination? There are a few past cases that deal with spousal jealousy, including Planter v. Cash & Thomas Contractors, Inc. In that case, it was determined that spousal jealousy may be a lawful reason to fire an employee – but only if the jealousy involves one specific individual.

In Stroin, the court came to the conclusion that the employee’s firing was a violation of Title VII because the president’s wife refused to allow an entire gender to work with her husband, not one specific individual.

If you believe you have suffered sex discrimination in the workplace or that your wrongful termination was unlawful, our California employment law attorneys can assist you.

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