Parental status touches on someone’s role as a biological parent, step-parent, adoptive parent, guardian, foster parent, or custodian of a minor. It encompasses an individual’s relationship and responsibility toward children, making it a vital aspect of any discussion on family dynamics. Making sure your employer respects your status as a parent is crucial to the health of your family and our community.
Los Angeles Parental Status Discrimination Lawyers
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Most people know that employers are not allowed to ask job applicants whether they are married- or whether they have children. Otherwise, an employer could easily have access to information about your family that might cause them to select an applicant who might require “less time off” than an applicant with a spouse or children. But what happens when you have already been hired?
Unfortunately, many parents find themselves facing parental status discrimination, also known as familial status discrimination. This happens when employers discriminate against employees because of their family or childcare obligations. Such discrimination could be in the form of denying promotions, benefits, or equal wages- or could also come in the form of outright harassment and mockery. At King & Siegel LLP, our Los Angeles parental status discrimination attorneys are determined to seek recompense for your pain.
Examples of Parental & Familial Discrimination
There are a significant number of ways you might be subjected to discrimination at the workplace simply for having a family. If you notice some of these occurrences at your place of work, reach out to us immediately.
Some of the most common examples of this parental status discrimination include:
- Terminating employees who are pregnant or have asked for time off on account of maternity;
- Refusing to promote women who are pregnant or have children at home;
- Being inflexible about work schedules for parents who have childcare needs but being more flexible about nonparents’ schedules;
- Rewarding single women, women who are not mothers, or men rather than women who are more qualified but also have children;
- Making up excuses to justify firing employees with parental duties, including creating “work infractions” or accusations about lack of performance levels; and
- Giving higher positions to single or married men rather than women who are engaged or married (just in case they become pregnant in the future).
Fighting Against Parental & Familial Discrimination
This bias is a kind of prejudice that occurs all the time in the workplace, yet it is more difficult to challenge because there are no specific national laws stating that parental status is equivalent to some of the other discrimination-protected classes, such as race or gender. Fortunately, in California, there are specific laws that ban any discrimination based on either marital status or giving birth. Therefore, if you can relate your case to either of these protected classes, you will be much more likely to be successful in your claim. In addition, we have come up with innovative arguments to extend protections to workers who are penalized for not living up to outdated gender norms (for instance, for penalizing a father with primary childcare responsibilities- or failing to promote a mother who is outperforming her younger and/or childless female peers).
Laws you might be able to use to your advantage in a parental status discrimination case include:
- The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA),
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),
- The California Family Rights Act (CFRA),
- Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and
If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your parental status, King & Siegel LLP welcomes you to call our legal team today at (213) 465-4802 for a free review of your case.
Can an Employer Fire You for Not Having Childcare?
Sometimes. While your employer has the right to set your work schedule, if you are held to a different standard than other employees or subject to different rules, your employer may be breaking the law. If your employer terminates you because you do not have childcare, your employer might have violated several laws that prohibit the following.
Sex and Gender Discrimination
If your termination is based on sex-related or gender-related expectations about childcare, your employer might have violated your protected sex or gender status under FEHA and Title VII. For example, an employer that is understanding of female workers who need time off to tend to their children but expects male employees to stay at work when their children need them has likely committed unlawful gender discrimination. Similarly, an employer who assumes women will have to call out when their children are sick (but does not assume the same of fathers in the workforce) may be discriminating based on assumptions about women.
Family and Medical Leave
If you have a conflict between your work and childcare needs because of new parenthood or your child’s health issue, a job termination could be a violation of the CFRA and FMLA. Under the CFRA and FMLA, many employers must give their employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to tend to serious personal or family issues, including the following:
- Taking care of a spouse or child with a serious health condition,
- Handling the birth of a child,
- Taking care of a newborn child within their first year of life, and
- Working to welcome a foster child or adopted child into the employee’s home within their first year of placement.
During this leave period, your employer must hold your job and maintain your benefits. And once you return from leave, your employer is obligated to restore you to your previous position or a similar position.
Marital Status Discrimination
Employers in California cannot discriminate against a working parent just because they are single or because their spouse also has a job. If you noticed your employer making subtle (or not-so-subtle) comments about you not having childcare “despite your circumstances” before terminating you, this could be an indication that marital status discrimination is at play.
The Impact of Parental Status Discrimination
When you are the victim of parental discrimination, you can see the damage to your wallet, your healthcare needs, and the well-being of your household. On the surface, an employer’s refusal to properly accommodate or respect an employee’s parenting needs often makes it hard for its employee to fulfill their parenting obligations, making life harder for the employee and their family. And as the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) reports, victims of workplace discrimination report higher levels of depression. The ODPHP also notes that the stress of repeated discrimination can make its targets more vulnerable to physical illness.
Discrimination is also financially costly to its victims. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that recent gender discrimination cases have yielded hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in damages per case. Parental status discrimination can come up in unequal pay, stunted professional advancement, high expenses to pay for emergency childcare, and extended unemployment, all of which deserve compensation in a discrimination lawsuit or administrative complaint.
How to Recognize Parental Status Discrimination
You can probably sense bias and mistreatment from your employer, but how do you identify parental discrimination in the workplace? The best way to identify parental discrimination at work is to talk to an attorney as soon as you notice misconduct. But for now, you can review this list of examples of parental status discrimination for familiar signs of unlawful treatment.
If you notice any of the following in your workplace, it might be a hint that your employer is a perpetrator of parental status discrimination:
- A boss who makes frequent comments about your children or your parenting needs during discussions about work assignments or schedules – No matter how innocuous or good-natured these comments about your parental responsibilities might seem, they could be a window into your employer’s intent to exclude you from important projects and opportunities that are ultimately handed over to co-workers who do not have children.
- A pattern of employees of another gender or without children who have the same or less experience than you gaining more status at work when you have been repeatedly denied promotions or increased responsibilities – Many employees have to prove their discrimination claims without direct evidence of discriminatory intent, and they do this by showing that their employer gave better treatment to similarly situated employees whose only difference was their status as a nonparent, married parent, or parent of another sex.
- A boss who makes or tolerates constant jokes or comments about parents (regardless of whether they are made in the context of talking about work obligations) – This type of joking can constitute unlawful harassment and any unwarranted, adverse employment actions that you endure after experiencing the harassment could be the result of other illegal discrimination.
- An employer that enforces employment policies more harshly against you than other employees who do not have children – For example, if an employee without children is chronically late and is never disciplined, but you are punished for being late a handful of times due to childcare needs, your employer may be discriminating against you based on your status as a parent.
Once again, this list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the different types of parental status discrimination out there. A knowledgeable employment discrimination attorney can help you pinpoint the actionable behavior of your employer and recover what you deserve for enduring the misconduct.
Options for Fighting Discrimination
Many states provide few, if any, protections against discrimination explicitly because of parental status. Employees with families who have faced such bias can feel anxious about losing their jobs and livelihood at any moment, which is particularly stressful when you are supporting a family. Thankfully, in the state of California, you have options, especially when you have our Los Angeles parental status discrimination lawyers by your side. You can count on King & Siegel LLP to immediately fight the discrimination you are facing.