NYCHRL Marital Status Discrimination Claim Survives Dismissal

From Morse v. Fidessa Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 27276 (Sup. Ct. NY Cty. Aug. 8, 2017):

Here, plaintiff alleges that he was told he was fired because of his perceived marriage to Wakefield and that he would be considered for future employment if he ended his marriage with Wakefield (complaint ¶¶ 42, 43; proposed amended complaint ¶¶ 45, 46). This is analogous to the Thompson case described above; assuming plaintiff’s allegations are true, plaintiff would have his job if he were single (or simply not married to Wakefield). Therefore, the Court finds that plaintiff has stated a cognizable cause of action. Plaintiff’s allegations demonstrate that he was treated differently because defendants thought he was married to Wakefield.

An employer should not have an unlimited ability to infringe on a person’s liberty interest in his or her adult relationships (see Joslin, supra at 815). Plaintiff alleges that defendants sought to control the composition of his family life by informing him that he was fired because he was married and that he might be rehired if he divorced Wakefield— to allow that conduct would permit an employer to assert substantial control over an employee’s private life. Defendants could, for instance, demand that an employee marry his or her partner and then fire that employee if he or she refused. That decision, whether to get married (or stay married), has nothing to do with the employee’s performance, financial constraints, or other permissible reasons that might prompt termination.