Q. We recently hired an amazing applicant for a position at our large accounting firm. After signing her offer, she casually mentioned that her husband works here. We have a policy against office romances. Can we dismiss either her or her husband for this reason?
A. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act generally prohibits employers from making employment-related decisions based on an individual’s marital status, including whether they have a spouse employed at the company.
That said, such decisions are allowed in exceptional circumstances. One such situation occurs when the individual in question would be under the direct supervision of his or her spouse and the arrangement could present supervisory, safety, security or morale issues for the company.
Another exception allows employers to refuse to place spouses in the same department, division or facility if the work involves potential conflicts of interest or other issues that would be more apparent for spouses than other individuals.