Sometimes it is easy to know if family responsibilities discrimination lurks in your workplace: you’ve been sued for pregnancy discrimination or FMLA retaliation or sex discrimination based on motherhood. Most times, it isn’t easy.
Short of a lawsuit, what are the tip-offs that your workplace has a problem?
- Your company has a history of terminating pregnant women.
- A disproportionate number of employees who were laid off were caregivers.
- Women quit after they become mothers, or don’t return from maternity leave.
- Men take little or no paternity leave.
- Few or no mothers work in senior management.
- Employees who work flexible schedules, especially reduced hours, find their advancement derailed.
- People who take family leave lose responsibility, direct reports, or sales territory.
- Women who are pregnant are not accommodated, such as receiving help with lifting or a stool to sit on.
- Comments are made about pregnancy, motherhood, or caregiving (such as: “Gee, I wish I were breastfeeding so I could take a break”; “How’s it going, Preggo?;” “Men don’t use their families as excuses;” “There’s no way your father needs that much care;” “Women will never get ahead in this company as long as they keep having babies;” and “I don’t know why you need a 12 week leave for having a baby.”)
- Attendance or punctuality is scrutinized for caregivers but not for others.
- Performance evaluations discuss pregnancy or other family responsibilities, or criticize employees for taking family leave.
- Employees who take maternity, paternity, or other family leave do not have performance targets adjusted to account for their absence.
- Pregnant women get transferred to a less visible or less important job because they are pregnant.
- In one particular department, all pregnant women or all mothers quit or are terminated.
- Single employees without children are promoted on a faster track than caregivers.
- Mothers are passed over for promotion because they have young children.
- Fathers are discouraged from or criticized for taking days off to care for sick children.
- Employees who use intermittent leave to care for elderly parents are counseled about attendance and pulling their own weight.
- Employees with family responsibilities are penalized for mistakes or infractions more severely than other employees.
- Supervisors build cases to justify terminating caregivers.
- Your company has a policy prohibiting leave to employees who are not eligible for FMLA leave.
- Supervisors use scheduling to make work inconvenient to encourage caregivers to quit.
- Women, but not men, are asked in interviews about availability to work evenings and weekends or about childcare arrangements.
Those are just a few of the fact patterns that have landed employers in hot water for family responsibilities discrimination. Do any ring a bell?
If you would like to prevent family responsibilities discrimination, you may be interested in our FRD Prevention Checklist.
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