Working parents and Family Responsibilities Discrimination

The vast majority of U.S. residents must work. Today’s employers often demand a tremendous amount from employees and, increasingly, U.S. employees are struggling to maintain a healthy work and life balance. Doing so is often especially challenging for working parents who often feel pressured to put in long hours at the office, which comes at the expense of their home life and parental duties.

The legal term Family Responsibilities Discrimination or FRD is often used to describe cases were an employer discriminates against an employee due to his or her familial responsibilities or status. Also referred to as caregiver discrimination, FRD doesn’t just negatively affect working parents, but may also affect any employee who is responsible for the care of a spouse, partner, parent or other family member.

Examples of discrimination based on FRD may include negative or disparaging comments, unfair treatment, denial of or retaliation related to FMLA leave, negative performance reviews and termination. While New York State employment laws don’t specifically address FRD, depending on the specific circumstances involved, legal action may be taken based upon the violation of other laws including the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, ERISA and the Equal Pay Act.

Employees who believe they are the victims of FRD would be wise to address their concerns directly with a supervisor or an employer’s human resources department. Taking action to address the discriminatory behaviors may help bring about positive changes and rectify the situation. In cases where one’s questions and concerns remain unanswered and unaddressed, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney who handles employment law issues related to discrimination and harassment.

Source: WorkLife Law: UC Hastings College of Law,” Aug. 20, 2015

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