Anti-Nepotism trumps familial status discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Good news for employers with strong anti-nepotism policies: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a claim based on alleged familial status discrimination.

The court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not protect family members from an employer’s decision not to hire a relative when company rules bar nepotism.

The case involved a husband, wife and daughter. They claimed they had been discharged from a nonprofit agency because the husband had allegedly hired his wife and daughter despite a company policy against employing relatives. They claimed the discharge constituted sex discrimination based on familial relationships and said other parent/child employees had not been terminated.

Final note: The EEOC is pushing the envelope when it comes to combination discrimination. For example, it has said it might be sex discrimination to make employment decisions based on real or perceived family care responsibilities. Cases such as this one may mean that courts won’t easily be persuaded that current laws can be twisted to create new discrimination categories.

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