You’re poly! You’re cutting edge with the open lifestyle of the future. You have pictures of your loves in your cubicle and you wave that poly flag every chance you get.
Then you get a pink slip.
Was it your lifestyle? Not to put too fine a point on it, can they legally do that?
The answer, as always, is “It depends”.1 If you’re employed “at will”, an employer does not have to show cause to fire you. This means, that yeppers, you can be fired for being openly poly, it’s just that they won’t say that’s why. Find out if you’re an at will employee (if you work in the US, chances are good you are). Proof of discrimination becomes problematic here.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination on the basis of religion, sex, race, color, or national origin illegal. I will point out that fundamentalist Mormons have been notoriously unlucky in attempting to use religion as a defense for plural marriage choices, so this is hardly iron-clad. But, do read the text of the Act carefully. It really doesn’t deal with who you’re forming relationships with!
I keep repeating that poly people really need to know their local laws. It’s important. It’s amazing what you can get tripped up on through ignorance. Beware of wishful thinking in this. If it’s something with genuinely high stakes, pony up the money and talk to a local lawyer.
Seventeen states do have laws protecting employment based on sexual orientation. You can click on the link to find out what the laws are in your state. I’ve yet to find any legal precedence saying that polyamory is considered a sexual orientation, however. Legally, it’s a dark gray area. I say dark because there are states2 that do have laws against adultery. If you’re married and actively poly, you might very well be breaking the law in your area.3
I’m not trying to scare anyone here, nor am I trying to be gloom and doom. I just want people to know their local laws before they decide whether or not to be “out”. I choose to be, and genuinely think it’s safer in the long run.
I just don’t want to choose for you.
1I am not a lawyer. For more detailed information it is important to consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction!
2And other legal jurisdictions like the US Military
3And legally, it’s adultery whether or not your spouse is consenting. It’s that extra-martial sex is happening at all, not how your spouse feels about it!