Family Responsibility Discrimination and Public Agencies: No Employer Left Behind

Source: Consuela A Pinto, California Public Employee Relations, no. 190, June 2008
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No employer, public or private, is immune from claims of family responsibilities discrimination — allegations that employees have been discriminated against because of their caregiving responsibilities for children, elderly parents, or ill relatives.

FRD cases have grown nearly 400 percent in the last decade, suggesting that every employer, regardless of industry or geographical location, is accountable. Even employers on “best places to work” lists have been defendants. The explosive growth in these cases has not gone unnoticed in California, one of a handful of states that has or is considering laws that expressly prohibit employment discrimination based on “family responsibilities,” “familial status,” or “parenthood.” In February 2007, California Senator Sheila Kuehl introduced Senate Bill 836, which would have amended California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to include “familial status” as a protected category in its employment provisions. After approval by both houses of the state legislature, the bill was vetoed in October by Governor Schwarzenegger.

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