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H&R Weekly

H&R Weekly (4/27/20)

Topic of the Week  Family Responsibilities Discrimination

  • What is family responsibilities discrimination?
  • Who is affected by family responsibilities discrimination?
  • 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?

What is family responsibilities discrimination?

Family responsibilities discrimination ("FRD") is employment discrimination that is based on workers' responsibilities to care for their family members. This type of discrimination may happen to pregnant employees, employees caring for aging parents, parents with young children or workers who have a family member with a disability. If these employees face unfair discrimination in the workplace based on responsibilities such as this, they may be experiencing FRD.

Who is affected by family responsibilities discrimination?

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

"Inequality doesn’t just disappear when we move our work online, and gender equity is still elusive, whether you’re meeting via Zoom or in a boardroom."

–Elissa Sangster| Forbes

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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List of the Week

from Medicare Plan Finder

Caregiver Statistics

  • 65% of care recipients are female, averaging 69.4 years of age.
  • Male carers are often less likely to provide personal care. 24% has helped a loved one get dressed in comparison to 28% of women caretakers.
  • 43% of caregivers believe that these activities are their individual responsibility because nobody else can do them, or because insurance will not provide professional help.

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