The Montana Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex (including maternity and pregnancy) (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101 et seq.). The Act applies to all employers in the state, including employment agencies and unions. Nonprofit fraternal, charitable, or religious associations or corporations are not covered by the Act.
Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate with respect to an individual's compensation or terms of employment.
• Retaliate against an individual who exercises his or her rights under the law or an individual assisting in the investigation or enforcement of the state law.
• Publish an advertisement for employment specifying a limitation or discrimination as to age, disability, marital status, or sex, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).
The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that an employer that employed a husband and wife unlawfully discriminated against the husband on the basis of marital status when it fired him after becoming dissatisfied with his wife's job performance (Mercer v. McGee, 346 Mont. 484 (2008)). In this case, the employer hired the employee and his wife as apartment managers. After several years, the employer became concerned with the wife's job performance and sent a letter to the couple informing them that they were both fired. The employee was unable to find a similar position and brought an action alleging marital status discrimination to the state labor department, which found in his favor and awarded damages. The court held that substantial evidence supported ...