Antinepotism rules, in general, and no-spouse rules, in particular, have been attacked on the grounds that they discriminate unfairly. No-spouse rules may be restricted under many states' fair employment laws on the grounds that they constitute marital status discrimination, unless they are justified by a legitimate business necessity. It may be easier for small companies to justify anti-nepotism rules on the basis of the simple need to avoid any potential conflict among employees. However, in larger organizations, more specific business reasons may be required to substantiate such a rule.
Rules against the hiring of a spouse, placing one spouse under the direct supervision of the other, or having both spouses in the same department can be justified most easily if:
• The rule does not discriminate on the basis of sex;
• The company can show a legitimate business justification for the rule, such as safety, supervision, security, or morale; or
• The individuals involved are allowed to help make the decision regarding who will terminate or transfer, and the decisions are based on a gender-neutral factor, such as seniority.
Significant others. Some companies apply their no-spouse rules to unmarried couples living together; others feel it is unfair to treat all romantically involved employees as married couples. The best solution may be to look at the impact of the relationship on the workplace. If it causes disruption, one member of the couple can be transferred in the same way as a spouse would under the no-spouse rule. Likewise, in states that protect individuals based on sexual orientation, the no-spouse rule should be governed evenhandedly to same-sex as well as different-sex couples to avoid a charge of ...