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Workplace Fairness Weekly

Workplace Fairness Weekly (7/20/20)

Topic of the Week  Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Why is FRD important?

Who is affected by FRD?

My coworker leaves early every Tuesday to pick up her kids, while I have to cover for her. I am not allowed to leave early on any day for appointments or other non-work commitments, unless I want to use leave time or have my pay docked. Is this illegal?

Why is FRD important?

The EEOC recently published reports that highlight the ever-growing issue of employment discrimination facing family caregivers Seventy percent of U.S. households with children have all adults participating in the labor force.

  • Women make up 46% of the U.S. labor force, and most (81%) of women in the United States have children.
  • 25% of families take care of aging relatives.
  • 10% of employees are taking care of both children and aging parents.

With these statistics, it is clear that a large number of employees are either currently or potentially affected by employers who discriminate due to an employee's family responsibilities.

Who is affected by FRD?

If you have a job and family caregiving responsibilities, you may be affected by FRD. Women with children are most likely to encounter FRD: they are 79% less likely to be recommended for hire, 100% less likely to be promoted, and are generally offered at least $10,000 less in salary for the same position as a similarly situated male.

Increasingly, men face family responsibilities discrimination in the workplace when they seek to actively care for their children or other family members. FDR against men can take a variety of forms, for example some employers have denied male employee's requests for leave for childcare purposes even while granting female employee's requests.

My coworker leaves early every Tuesday to pick up her kids, while I have to cover for her. I am not allowed to leave early on any day for appointments or other non-work commitments, unless I want to use leave time or have my pay docked. Is this illegal?

While this appears to be a form of FRD, it is probably not illegal. In most states, marital status or familial discrimination is not against the law. Even if your state does recognize these forms of discrimination as illegal, being forced to temporarily cover for another employee is not likely to be considered serious enough to succeed in a discrimination complaint. Many companies have adopted “flextime” or other “family-friendly” policies which make it easier for workers with children to balance work and family commitments.

If you still believe you have been treated unfairly, you may wish to discuss this situation with coworkers, your supervisor, or your company's personnel department to determine whether the company can adopt leave policies or practices that treat employees with and without children the same, or whether the department's work can be reallocated so that no one person is required to assume the burden of a worker's absence for family reasons.

Thought of the Week

"With many companies operating remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever for sexual harassment policies to explicitly prohibit harassment across all forms of digital communication and media to account for all the ways people can interact with each other virtually."

–Edgar Ndjatou | WF Director

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Merrill Lynch Study

    Household Responsibilities 

    49% of employed women in the United States, including 42 percent of working mothers, say they are their family’s main breadwinner.

    54% of women took leave from work when first becoming a parent as opposed to 42 percent of men. Plus, women take ten times as much temporary leave from work as men upon the arrival of a child. Without a national paid leave policy, this usually means that women are taking home less or no money during their time off.

    Women are more likely than men to stop working to care for elderly family members, which completely removes them from the workforce, cutting their earnings and ability to save for important things like retirement.

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