Can an employer dismiss a female employee from work due to marriage?

Let us say a young lady, who had just graduated from college, applied for work in a company.

When she applied, she was still single and had no plans of getting married anytime soon.

Besides, she had no reason to even consider getting married since she was not in a relationship with anyone.

Back then, all she had ever wanted was for the company to hire her.

During her interview, she was told that the company would only hire her if she agrees to the following conditions:

(1) She will remain single while working for the company; and,

(2) She will be automatically dismissed from work once she marries.

Because she really wanted to get hired and above all work for the company, she right away agreed.

Pleased with her approval, the company hired her on the spot. She was even asked to report for work the very next day.

But she later met, fell in love with and married someone.

Because of her marriage, the company dismissed her from work.

Dismissal due to marriage

Now this brings us to this very important question: Is her dismissal from work due to marriage legal?

The answer is No.

This holds true even if she agreed to remain single while working for the company and that she would be automatically dismissed from work once she marries.

This is so because it is unlawful for an employer to:

(1) Require as a condition of employment or its continuation that a woman employee shall not get married; or,

(2) Stipulate expressly or impliedly that upon getting married, a woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated; or,

(3) Actually dismiss, discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee by reason of her marriage.

Concealment of civil status

In a company with a policy against marriage, a female employee cannot be dismissed from work for concealing her civil status in the job application form.

She cannot be fired for making it appear she is single when she is really married.

Concealing it cannot be considered as willful or in bad faith.

Because she is only forced by the very same illegal company policy to misrepresent it for fear of being disqualified from work.

But since it is a clear act of dishonesty, she can be suspended for it to remove the impression that her act has to be condoned.

Besides, it is unfair for the employer if she will return to the company without any sanction for her act that is not totally justified.

Marriage as a condition for reinstatement

It is also unlawful for an employer to require a dismissed female employee to first get married before she can be reinstated.

This is so because it violates her right to choose freely a spouse and to get married only with her free and full consent.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification

But if an employer is really keen on having a Marriage or No Marriage Policy, it has to show that the policy is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification or BFOQ to be lawful.

For this policy to be considered as a BFOQ, there must be a reasonable business necessity for which no option exists other than this discriminatory practice.

In particular, an employer has to prove the following elements:

(1) The employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved; and,

(2) There is a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the duties of the job.

Policy against employees marrying employees from competitor companies

One perfect example of a BFOQ is the policy against employees marrying employees from competitor companies.

It is lawful for an employer to prohibit its employees from getting married with employees from competitor companies.

It is reasonable and as such a valid exercise of management prerogative because relationships of that nature might compromise the interest of an employer.

It is only aimed to protect its interests against the possibility that a competitor company will gain access to its secrets and procedures.

Bear in mind that it has a right to guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other confidential programs and information from competitors.

Policy against employees marrying co-employees

But it is different when it comes to the policy against employees marrying co-employees.

It is not a BFOQ.

It is unlawful for an employer to prohibit its employees from getting married with co-employees.

Unlike the policy against employees marrying employees from competitor companies, it is unreasonable and as such an invalid exercise of management prerogative.

This is so because it is based only on the mere fear that employees married to each other will be less efficient, which is evidently not a reasonable business necessity.

[References: Article 136 (now 134) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, Article 135 (now 133) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, Article 137 (now 135) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. National Labor Relations Commission and Grace De Guzman, G.R. No. 118978, May 23, 1997, Duncan Association of Detailman-PTGWO and Pedro A. Tecson vs. Glaxo Wellcome Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 162994, September 17, 2004, Star Paper Corporation, et. al. vs. Ronaldo D. Simbol, et. al., G.R. No. 164774, April 12, 2006, Christine Joy Capin-Cadiz vs. Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc., G.R. 187417, February 24, 2016, Republic Act No. 6725, otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening the Prohibition on Discrimination Against Women with Respect to Terms and Conditions of Employment, Amending for the Purpose Article One Hundred Thirty-Five of the Labor Code, As Amended” (May 12, 1989), Republic Act No. 7322, otherwise known as “An Act Increasing Maternity Benefits in Favor of Women Workers in the Private Sector, Amending for the Purpose Section 14-A of Republic Act No. 1161, As Amended, and for Other Purposes” (March 3, 1992),  Republic Act No. 7600, otherwise known as “The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992” (June 2, 1992), Republic Act No. 9710, otherwise known as “The Magna Carta of Women” (April 14, 2009), and Republic Act No. 10151, otherwise known as “An Act Allowing the Employment of Night Workers, Thereby Repealing Articles 130 and 131 of Presidential Decree Number Four Hundred Forty-Two, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines”( June 21, 2011)]

One thought on “Can an employer dismiss a female employee from work due to marriage?

  1. This is discrimination- the law says you mustn’t be discriminated against- where is the Equality Act?

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