Today, more and more men are becoming caregivers to their children or parents — and this trend is likely to continue. The economic recession resulted in unemployment or underemployment among men. This situation has forced women to take on greater breadwinning responsibilities. As men assume primary parenting and caregiver roles, they too may also face gender equity and discrimination issues at work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take unpaid time off to attend to family or medical matters. However, men who attempt to take leave report that they are sometimes viewed as being less committed to work. In California, the number of men who took leave to care for a sick relative increased slightly from 2004 to 2012, but those taking leave for child birth nearly doubled, during that same time increasing from 17% to 29 percent. As the amount of men taking leave for births increase, so too have the discrimination claims from men associated with this activity. Approximately 12% of the lawsuits filed alleging discrimination based on family responsibilities were filed by men which appears to be an increasing trend.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) acknowledges that federal equal opportunity laws do not specifically prohibit caregiver discrimination. However, the agency notes that, in certain circumstances, discrimination against caregivers could be unlawful disparate treatment. For example, a male caregiver may be denied a request for leave for childcare when a similar request made by a female employee would have been granted. The Federal EEOC provides enforcement guidelines to describe the factors which are considered in determining whether a caregiver has been discriminated against illegally based on gender.
If you have been the victim of gender or race discrimination in the workplace, it is important for you to speak with an experienced employment law attorney who understands the law and is committed to helping you to protect your rights.