Increasingly, men face family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) in the workplace when they seek to actively care for their children or other family members. This experience is only like to become more common: studies of younger generations of men (Gen X & Y) reveal that they place a higher value on caretaking and spending time with their families than the generations of men who came before them.
What Does FRD Against Men Look Like?
FRD against men can take a variety of forms, including:
- Getting inaccurate information about the availability of leave and benefits
- Being discouraged, even subtly, from taking paternity or family leave
- Receiving unfavorable job assignments or transfers as "punishment" for having taken paternity or family leave
- Receiving unwarranted negative performance evaluations that reference distractions or absences
- Being criticized for being a caregiver, or receiving snide remarks about masculinity or gender roles
- Being excluded from social or business networks
- Being placed on shifts that the employer knows are incompatible with your caregiving obligations
- Being disciplined for not meeting quotas or performance standards that can't reasonably be met because you were on leave; and
- Being terminated based on family responsibilities
FRD Against Men Is Illegal
Men who face FRD can bring claims for sex discrimination. For example, if a man is penalized for not fitting into the gender stereotype that, when it comes to his children “his wife should do it,” that is sex discrimination. However, most FRD claims brought by men are brought under the Family and Medical Leave Act (or a state law equivalent).
To be covered under the FMLA, workers must:
- work for an employer that has more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius;
- must have worked for their employer for at least a year;
- must have worked at least 1250 hours in the preceding year; and,
- must have not already used all their FMLA leave for the year.
The FMLA prohibits interference with the right to take leave (such as by discouraging employees from taking leave, giving them inaccurate information about leave, or requiring them to return early from leave) and discrimination or retaliation for taking leave.
Men may also bring FRD claims under other laws that relate to their situations—for example, if they are discriminated against for caring for their child with special medical needs or a disability.