Court Broadly Construes NYC Human Rights Law re Discrimination Based on “Marital Status”

From Morse v. Fidessa Corp., 2018 NY Slip Op 05975 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. Sept. 6, 2018):

At issue in this matter of first impression is whether the New York City Human Rights Law’s (HLR) prohibition against discrimination based on “marital status” encompasses a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of the identity of a person’s spouse. In light of the uniquely broad and remedial purposes of the City HRL, we hold that “marital status” must be given a broader meaning than simply married or not married, and that it must encompasses other factors that may be used to deem the relationship “disqualifying,” i.e., unacceptable. Accordingly, the complaint before us, which alleges that defendant Fidessa Corporation terminated plaintiff’s employment after an employee who Fidessa believed was married to plaintiff left its employ states a cause of action for discrimination under the City HRL.

Under this construction, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendants’ motion to dismiss.