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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Employment Discrimination Against Single Mothers

Single mothers face a number of difficulties in life and, unfortunately, in the workplace as well. Only a few generations ago, women were barred from most jobs. And even now, the workforce is angled for the advancement of men. Every single parent has it hard, but women must often deal with

employment discrimination on top of all their other life problems.

What are Clues that Employment Discrimination is Occurring?

Employees can recognize discrimination in the workplace by considering the patterns within their workplace. If less qualified male employees are promoted over more qualified women, whether married or single mothers, discrimination may be in play. Some companies try to wrongfully terminate women by creating a paper trail of false infraction to justify terminating female employees. In other situations, employers allow a hostile work environment to fester to force the single mothers to resign.

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Marital Status Discrimination Against Moms

Although not illegal in many states, marital status discrimination is often felt by unmarried mothers, divorced moms, and even married moms. Some employers make judgments about the eligibility of women with certain responsibilities to prioritize their job. In this way, employers discriminate against women for their marital status.

Interview Discrimination

How To Recognize Discrimination

Many women face questions about their marital status and their children in their interview. In Pennsylvania, this line of questioning is considered illegal and discriminatory. After all, some employer make their hiring decisions based upon this information, choosing not to hire a woman who is a single mother with children. Hiring should be based on qualifications and not family situation.

On the Job Discrimination

Women employees who are overlooked for promotions or projects due to their gender and responsibilities as a mother are suffering discrimination. Recognizing discrimination can be difficult because sometimes it is very subtle. And in some situations, employers will do everything within their power to hide the discrimination.

Deal with Marital Status Discrimination

In most states, it will be very difficult to prove marital status discrimination. It might be better to focus your complaint on the existence of a hostile work environment, wrongful termination, or sex discrimination if one of those fits your situation. A single mother, strained for time and money, may not want to rock the boat in her job, but law protects employees from retaliation when they are pursuing their employment rights.

Meanwhile, employees have been reporting family responsibilities discrimination (FRD), which is employment discrimination that occurs against workers who are primary care takers of family members. Although also not specifically protected by the law, many employees fall into this group. Employees who are pregnant, caring for aging parents, or care for a family member with a disability may face this type of discrimination.

Examples of Discrimination

woman behind computer screen with fingers pointing at her

  1. firing pregnant employees because they will take maternity leave

  2. failure to promote qualified employees with children while promoting less qualified workers

  3. giving inflexible work schedules to parents but flexible ones to other employees

  4. dismissing employees with family responsibilities for false infractions

  5. punishing workers who use FMLA to care for family members

Employment Laws

Although most states do not have protections against marital status discrimination or family responsibilities discrimination, the federal law does provide certain protections. Title VII prohibits discrimination for any legally protected class while the Americans with Disabilities Act offers protections to employees with disabilities. A lawyer will also have a better idea of what laws might apply to your situation.

File a Complaint for Discrimination

1. Gather your evidence.

Document the situations that lead you to believe that your employer is discriminating against you for your legally protected class or using a legal right. Print out any emails and file them in a safe place.

2. Check the employee handbook.

suited man holding notebook paper asking, "Need a lawyer?"

Most employers have a handbook that outline how the company wishes to handle situations where employment discrimination is occurring. Before filing a complaint with the government, try to resolve the issue within the company. If your employer fails to take steps to resolve the problem, you will want to file a complaint.

3. File a complaint.

Depending on the type of discrimination you’re experiencing, you will need to file your complaint with a different government agency. Consult a lawyer to ensure that your complaint arrives to the right agency. Remember to move quickly since complaints must be filed within deadlines sometimes as short as 90 days.

If you have experienced at work, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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