- Blog post
Balancing work and family responsibilities: The courts weigh in
Workplace surveys show that work-life balance is increasingly important to employees. But work-life balance isn’t just a nice-to-have that helps attract and keep good people. It also has a legal side that supervisors and managers neglect at their peril – and their employer’s.
The legal concept is called Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD).
No, there’s not a new employment discrimination law covering workers with families. But there is a definite trend among plaintiffs’ lawyers to use existing laws – mainly on sex and disability bias – to sue employers who, they claim, discriminated against employees because of their responsibilities at home.
Supervisors usually get into FRD trouble by making one of two bad assumptions:
- They assume – without any evidence – that care-giving responsibilities at home will affect employees’ future performance, or
- They assume that employees of one sex – usually but not always women – will bear the brunt of responsibility for child care
It’s HR’s job to make sure your line managers know about these and other FRD issues, and how to stay on the right side of the law.