Marital and Family Status

At Queen's University, employees and students have the right not to be harassed or discriminated against based on their marital or family status.

Marital Status means the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced or separated and includes the status of living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage.

Family Status is defined as being "in a parent and child relationship." This phrase is understood to mean a parent and child "type" of relationship, involving care, responsibility and commitment, not limited to just parent/child by blood or adoption. Examples of family status include parents caring for children (including children by blood, adoption, fostering ,and step-parenting) and adults caring for aging parents or other relatives with disabilities. It includes families headed by people who identify in the queer community, as lesbian, gay, bisexual , or transgendered, as well as families headed by people who identify as heterosexual and cisgendered. (See Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.)

Under the Queen's Harassment and Discrimination policy, discrimination based on marital or family status may be described as any distinction, conduct or action, whether intentional or not, but based on a person's marital or family status, which has the effect of either imposing burdens on an individual or group that are not imposed upon others, or withholding or limiting access to opportunity, benefits, and advantages available to other members of society.

Examples of discriminatory behavior based on stereotypes about marital status and family status:

Treating a student as though she is less capable of contributing to classroom discussions because she is a married woman. Hiring someone because he "needs" the job because he is married and has children, while another applicant is single and has no children.

Making assumptions about someone's individual character or developing personal animosity towards an individual on account of the behaviour, actions or reputation of his or her spouse, child or parent, is also a prohibited form of discrimination on marital or family status grounds.

Protections related to the grounds of marital status and family status may overlap with each other (for instance, a single mother is protected against discrimination because of her status, whether the discrimination is based on her marital status or on her family status). These grounds may also overlap with those for the ground of sex, which includes pregnancy. Under this ground, a woman is protected against discrimination because she is, was or may become pregnant, or because she has had a baby. It includes the period following childbirth, including the post-delivery period and breastfeeding.

Under Queen's policy, there is a duty to accommodate people on the basis of marital and family status. The goal is to allow people to benefit equally from and take part in events, activities, housing, and employment. Accommodation is a shared responsibility and everyone, including the person seeking accommodation, should cooperate in the process. However, when members of the University have obligations related to a human rights ground that conflict with an institutional rule or practice, Queen's has a duty to accommodate peoples' needs with dignity and to the point of undue hardship.

Family status is a particularly common ground for which accommodation may be requested, because the exercise of a caregiver relationship typically involves a time commitment. Employees and students may seek accommodation to allow them the time to attend to family responsibilities.

Example: A professor accommodates a student by allowing her to take her examination at a different time so that she may provide post-operative care to her brother.

If you would like to discuss a concern about discrimination based on marital or family status, please contact the Queens' Human Rights Office at:

Phone: (613) 533-6886