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Generally it is not a good idea. There might be occasions when your employee’s spouse does something that, in your eyes, is really bad. Perhaps he committed a crime? Maybe he has extreme political beliefs or did something embarrassing that went viral?

Whatever the case may be, employers should be cautious when disciplining employees for the actions or beliefs of their spouse. While federal law does not list any employee’s marital status as being protected from discrimination, Minnesota state law does. Under the state’s definition, an employee is protected against her employer taking an adverse action against her because of the identity, situation, actions or beliefs of her spouse. For this reason, companies need to be very careful any time they are dealing with issues of nepotism, including restrictions on married couples employment with the company.

As a result, employers should be cautious with their anti-nepotism policies, and when considering firing an employee because of something that her husband did, no matter how embarrassing or egregious his actions might have been.

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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