Marital status discrimination - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials relating to marital status discrimination.  (Reports about business & marital status discrimination from a wide range of sources are in the marital status discrimination section of our site.)

Below are some examples of lawsuits against companies raising the issue of marital status discrimination.  Additional materials about lawsuits relating to marital status discrimination may be found on our site by using our Cross-category search and ticking the categories:

  • “Issues>Discrimination>Marital status discrimination” and
  • “Law & lawsuits>Lawsuits & regulatory action>Lawsuits & regulatory action: General”

USA: Former employee sues LSI Corp., saying she was forced to resign due to marriage to her husband, who had been fired as company’s president

USA: Lesbian couple settles lawsuit against Bernardo Heights Country Club over refusal to extend same benefits to both women as it would to married couple - claimed marital status discrimination

[español] Argentina: INADI firma convenio con empresas para fomentar la diversidad y evitar la discriminación, diciembre 2008.

[español] España: Grupo Antena 3 exigirá a sus proveedores no incurrir en condiciones laborales precarias ni discriminatorias, mayo 2009.

International: Electronic Industry Code of Conduct includes provisions on marital status discrimination, Jun 2009.


Equality at work: The continuing challenge [PDF], Global Report under follow-up to ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, International Labour Organization, 2011 [scroll to p. 24, “Maternity and paternity status”, p. 26, “Legislation on marital status”)

Good Practice Note, Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity [PDF], International Finance Corporation, Jan 2006

Unmarried women in Asia: A business issue?, Esther Teh, CSR Asia, 16 Nov 2011


- Universal Declaration of Human Rights: article 16

- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: article 23

- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: article 10

- UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 18: paragraph 6

- UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 16: paragraphs 5, 10, 11

- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: articles 1, 11.2, 16

- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families: articles 1, 7

- 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: paragraph 178


Below we give examples of concerns regarding companies and marital status discrimination.  In cases where the Resource Centre has invited companies to respond to concerns raised by civil society, we indicate whether the company has responded.

China: Electronics factories accused of poor working conditions, discrimination including on basis of marital status, Jan 20007.  Resource Centre sought responses: Bestec, Dell, Delta Electronics, Fittec, HP, Motorola, NEC, Samsung responded; TCL, Xinhao, Yonghong Factory / FSP Group did not respond.

China: Married women face loss of job if they get pregnant, Nov 2008.

Czech Republic: Retail chains ask job applicants discriminatory questions, including marital status & number of children, Feb 2007.

India:  Mobile phone manufacturers accused of discrimination including on basis of marital status – report includes comments from Foxconn, Nokia, Salcomp, Sep 2011.

Iran: Pars Special Economic Energy Zone tells single employees to marry or face dismissal, Jun 2008.

Mexico: Baker & McKenzie, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark, Lear, Pepsi Bottling, Shell accused of discrimination against women who are not young, thin and single - article includes companies' responses, Oct 2006.


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16 November 2011

Unmarried women in Asia: A business issue?

Author: Esther Teh, CSR Asia

In Asia, many companies have a preference for hiring unmarried women. Women about to get married or have married are being turned away by companies. Business is concerned about staff shortages as women take maternity leave, but also the increased...

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1 September 2011

[PDF] Phony Equality: Labour standards of mobile phone manufacturers in India

Author: Anibel Ferus-Comelo & Päivi Pöyhönen, Finnwatch, Cividep & SOMO

This report focuses on labour rights in the mobile phone industry in India and addresses working conditions in export processing zones…The aim of this research is to get an understanding of unionisation and precarious employment in four mobile phone...

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1 June 2009

[PDF] Electronic Industry Code of Conduct

Author: HP

The Electronic Industry Code of Conduct was prepared by a number of companies engaged in the manufacture of electronics products between June and October 2004. Participating companies included HP, IBM, Dell, Solectron, Sanmina SCI, Jabil, Celestica and...

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24 May 2009
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Author: Europa Press [España]

Las productoras y distribuidoras del Grupo Antena 3 no podrán incurrir en condiciones laborales precarias ni discriminatorias después de que la compañía haya incluido una cláusula social en los contratos que tiene con todos sus proveedores, según...

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1 December 2008
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Author: ComunicaRSE

El Instituto Nacional contra la Discriminación (INADI) firmó hace unas semanas un convenio con importantes compañías nacionales y multinacionales en el marco del Programa Red de Empresas por la Diversidad, a través del cual éstas se comprometen a...

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13 November 2008

A woman's dilemma [China]

Author: Beijing Review

While the 10th National Women's Congress revealed a cheering 45 percent of China's employed population is female, many women still face discrimination…Employers are reluctant to hire young women largely because they might later demand paid maternity...

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10 June 2008

Marry or lose job, says Iran firm

Author: BBC News

Single workers at one of Iran's major state-owned companies have been told to marry by September or face being fired, Iranian newspapers have reported. The Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company employs thousands of people, mostly young men…Its...

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14 February 2007

Retail chains ask the job applicants discriminatory questions [Czech Republic]

Author: Environmental Law Service [Czech Republic]

[Original report in Czech. Title translation and following summary of the report's key points provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]....

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10 January 2007

[DOC] Clean Computers Campaign: Report on Labour Rights in the Computer Industry in China [English summary translation]

Author: Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM)

[Original report in Chinese. Title translation and following summary of the report's key points, provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre with authorization by SACOM.]...

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23 October 2006

In Mexico, young and thin are often job requirements

Author: Marla Dickerson and Meredith Mandell, Los Angeles Times [USA]

When Michigan-based Lear Corp. needed a secretary for its office in [Mexico], it placed an ad seeking a "female … aged 20 to 28 … preferably single … with excellent presentation", asking applicants to include a recent photo with their resumes. In the...

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