Wisconsin Personnel Commission's             Digest of Decisions        March, 1999 Version

Sections 778 through 778.04

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778  Marital status discrimination


778.02(2) Finding of no probable cause

There was no disparate treatment of a similarly-situated employe where complainant was not allowed to use doctor's excuses signed by her husband because their marital relationship created a facial conflict of interest. While respondent did not have a general policy on the subject of who could sign doctor's excuses, its objection to complainant's husband signing her excuses was not premised on their marital relationship per se, but on the inherent conflict of interest involved. Earnhart v. DHSS, 89-0025-PC-ER, 11/19/92

There was no probable cause with respect to respondent's exercise of discretion setting complainant's starting rate of pay where the person who made the decision was not aware of the complainant's identity. Butzlaff v. DHSS, 91-0044-PC-ER, 11/19/92

Where the primary basis utilized by respondent for making hiring decisions pursuant to the contractual transfer process was seniority unless a less senior candidate possessed clearly and substantially different qualifications, and where the complainant failed to show that her relevant qualifications were clearly and substantially different than those of the more senior candidates, no probable cause was found and the decision not to select the complainant was affirmed. Molitor v. DHSS, 89-0086-PC, 89-0105-PC-ER, 5/1/92

No probable cause was found with respect to a selection decision where there was no basis on which to conclude that the selection criteria were unreasonable, were not uniformly applied, or were not as respondent represented them to be or that the interviewing panelists' assessments of the candidates were not reasonable in view of the presentations of the candidates at the interviews and in view of the selection criteria. Larson v. DILHR, 86-0019-PC-ER, 86-0013-PC, 1/12/89

778.03(2) Finding of no discrimination

The Commission properly dismissed a complaint in which complainant alleged that she had been discriminated against on the basis of marital status by denial of her application for family health insurance coverage for her lesbian companion. Complainant was not similarly situated to married couples in context of discrimination analysis because under current Wisconsin law she had no legal relationship to companion and law imposed no mutual duty of general support and no responsibility for provision of marital care on unmarried couples of any gender as did not married couples, thus, complainant's legal status was not similar to that of married employee. Phillips v. Wis. Pers. Comm., 167 Wis. 2d 205 (Court of Appeals, 1992)

Respondent did not discriminate against complainant, a limited term typist at a correctional institution, based on marital status when respondent terminated her employment after learning her husband was an inmate at another institution, where the termination was based on respondent's belief that complainant lacked good judgment, was untrustworthy and was a high security risk. Purifoy v. DOC, 92-0044-PC-ER, 12/22/94

While complainant showed some variances in her interview for a vacant position with the appointing authority, complainant failed to establish that the variances were motivated by an unfavorable bias toward her marital status and that they resulted in her failure to gain the top ranking for the vacancy. Bell-White v. DHSS, 89-0009-PC-ER, 4/30/92

Complainant was not discriminated against on the basis of marital status, sex or sexual orientation when she was denied family health insurance coverage for her homosexual non-spousal partner with whom complainant shared finances and maintained many attributes usually associated with the marital relationship. The failure of DETF to have promulgated a rule that would have included complainant's partner within the definition of a dependent for purposes of family insurance coverage is not discriminatory because precedent and legislative history establishes that the legislature did not intend that such coverage be provided, complainant was not similarly situated with respect to married employes whose relationships were legally recognized by Wisconsin family law, and DETF was not obligated by the Fair Employment Act to recognize relationships, for the purpose of defining dependents, that are not legally recognized by family law but which arguably are parallel to legally recognized relationships. Phillips v. DETF & DHSS, 87-0128-PC-ER, 3/15/89, 4/28/89, 9/8/89; affirmed by Dane County Circuit Court, Phillips v. Wis. Pers. Comm., 89 CV 5680, 11/8/90; affirmed by Court of Appeals, 167 Wis. 2d 205, 2/13/92

The respondent's action of not permitting a husband and wife, both of whom are state employes to choose "family" health insurance coverage for one spouse and their children and "single" health insurance coverage for the other spouse, was upheld where the decision was made pursuant to express provisions of the administrative code and statutes and the legislature could not have intended to nullify these provisions when it amended the Fair Employment Act to include marital status discrimination. Ray v. DHSS & Group Insurance Board, 83-0129-PC-ER, 10/10/84; affirmed by Dane County Circuit Court, Ray v. Pers. Comm., 84-CV-6165, 5/15/85

778.04 Prima facie case

Complainant failed to state a claim of marital status discrimination with respect to a non-selection decision where there was no allegation that anyone on the search committee knew complainant was divorced. Olmanson v. UW (Green Bay) & DHFS, 98-0057-PC-ER, 10/21/98

Complainant failed to state a claim of marital status discrimination when she contended management in the state agency that previously employed her disapproved of a relationship she had with another employe of that agency who was married, thereby affecting the references provided to her prospective employer, a second agency. If her former employer disapproved of complainant's relationship with a married person, the basis for that disapproval had nothing to do with complainant's marital status. Olmanson v. UW (Green Bay) & DHFS, 98-0057-PC-ER, 10/21/98


While this digest has been prepared by Personnel Commission staff for the convenience of interested persons, it should be remembered that the decisions themselves are the ultimate source of Commission precedent.

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