Workplace Discrimination: Family Status Issues & What You Can Do

Parent & Caregiver Rights in the Workplace

Also called family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) and caregiver discrimination, discrimination based on family status can be crushing. Being a working parent or caregiver is tough. Not only do you put in your all at work, but you also have immense responsibilities at home. However, millions of California parents do it every day. Unfortunately, familial status discrimination or family responsibilities discrimination also happens every day.

When family status discrimination happens, parents and caregivers may not know where to turn and may not realize that they have legal options to fight back. Too often, this type of discrimination is brushed under the rug, leaving employees and their families to suffer in silence. But, if this is happening to you, you may have legal options to stop it. Both federal and state laws provide protections for working caregivers.

Legal protections that may be called upon in a familial status discrimination case include:

  • Title VII of the Civile Rights Act of 1964
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act

California Labor Code 230.8 also protects parents or caregivers from discrimination for “taking off up to 40 hours each year” for child-related activities such as finding and enrolling a child in school, participating in school-related activities, or addressing a school emergency.

Review our website to learn more about discrimination in the workplace and what you can do to stop it.

Recognizing Family Status Discrimination at Work

Familial discrimination can be difficult to spot. This is partly because it is one of the less talked about forms of workplace discrimination. Family status discrimination can be insidious and often occurs in the form of exclusion from workplace activities and opportunities.

It can also manifest as snide or rude comments about your responsibilities as a parent or caregiver. A manager may joke about you not being able to handle your job because you are now a parent. No matter its form, discrimination based on family status is never acceptable.

Parents and caregivers may also be held to different standards than their childless coworkers. Or they may suddenly be on the receiving end of micromanagement or placed on an unfounded performance plan that those who aren’t parents aren’t being subjected to.

More examples of familial status discrimination include:

  • Not hiring someone because they are a parent
  • Treating an employee poorly because they don’t have children
  • Passing someone over for a promotion because of their responsibilities as a caregiver
  • Requiring someone to work specific hours because they have children
  • Not including an employee in a professionalization opportunity because they have children
  • Not allowing parents or caregivers to apply for certain positions
  • Firing an employee because they had a child
  • Retaliating against an employee for taking federally protected leave to care for a family member, have a child, or adopt a child

Another example of family status discrimination is marital status discrimination. Just as with familial status discrimination, discrimination based on marital status is when an employer treats an employee or applicant badly because of their marital status. For example, not hiring someone because they are divorced or only considering unmarried applicants. This can intersect with family status discrimination, such as when someone is denied a pay increase because they are a single parent.

These are just a few examples of what familial status discrimination can look like. It can happen to those who are caregivers for adult family members, lactating parents, parents who need to take time off to participate in child-rearing activities, etc.

Contact Polaris Law Group for guidance if you are a parent or caregiver facing workplace discrimination. Our legal team can help you uncover your legal options and guide you in selecting the best path forward for your specific situation.

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