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When jealousy at work becomes discrimination

Jealousy can be a powerful emotion that can cause problems for New York residents in their social, personal and professional lives. One employee claimed that she was terminated from her position at a forklift dealer because the male president's wife didn't want him working with females. It should be noted that the wife was on the company payroll and took part in meetings with employees. The woman further alleged that she was treated differently than male employees.

For instance, the president of the company wouldn't make eye contact with her or allow her to take part in important meetings. The lawsuit claims that she was told that her termination was in spite of her being an excellent employee. It also claims that the president told her that the termination was because his wife didn't want him working with women. Although the woman was rehired, she was again terminated after being subject to similar behaviors in the workplace.

This was considered an interesting case because little was said in the courts about Title VII and spousal jealousy. It was determined based on limited precedent that termination based on spousal jealousy is legal if it is confined to one person. When it includes an entire gender, it is discrimination based on sex under Title VII. The court ruled that the wife wanted to exclude all women from working with her husband.

If an individual faces unequal treatment at work based on gender, it may be possible to take legal action against an employer. In some cases, employees may be entitled to compensation for back pay plus interest or benefits lost because of a demotion or termination. An attorney may use direct statements from management, personnel records or other evidence in an effort to establish that discrimination took place.

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