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Can spouses work together in the same department in the same shift?

Bishop, CA |

My brother and his wife started working at a relatively local hospital together in the same department last month. They've just been notified by their manager that they can't work together in the same shift because they are married. Each shift is 12 hours long and they have to commute 120 miles round trip to work. If they can't commute to work together, it would be unrealistic to spend 240 miles of driving a day.

He told me he informed them that he and his wife would work together and that was verbally agreed upon. Another piece of information is that, currently, they are not legally married in terms of having a marriage license. Would that help with the case?

Clarification: He informed them that he and his wife would work together at their job interview. Both spouses are working at the same level, same title and pay rate.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    There are no laws the prohibit this, but many employers have specific policies that do prohibit this. More common, though, are policies that prevent one family member from supervising another.

    In this case, because the two are not legally married, they might look at other policies and see if the employer generally regards domestic partners the same as married couples. For example, if benefits and other privileges are the same, the employer is (most likely) treating domestic partners as if they were married. But if the employer does not, then your brother and his wife may be able to appeal to human resources by showing that the company does not automatically define domestic partners as "married" and this is one other instance where the company should not define define them the same.

    It is also possible to appeal for an exception to the rule, or a transfer for one employee to another department, based on the circumstances.

    *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***


  2. Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

    I am not clear based on your description, what conflict the employer is pointing to in asking the couple not to work the same shift. I am not aware of any laws prohibiting a husband and wife to work the same shift. However, most companies have internal policies that prevent employees from dating each other, etc. Ask the manager for clarification, and consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.