The Center for Work Life Law released a new report that I believe will blow the lid off the work life balance debate in corporate America. Corporate chiefs who take a gander at this report might be more inclined to explore flexible working arrangements, consider a shift in their workplace culture, and perhaps lend a more open ear to the needs of workers who are caregivers – or face the consequences of litigation.
It might benefit big business to boost its awareness of work life effectiveness initiatives which some companies are taking very seriously. And for good reason. “Family Responsibilities Discrimination: Litigation Update” The Center’s report found that employment discrimination cases filed by people [workers] who care for family members has quadrupled over the last decade. These are known as “FRD” cases. The plaintiffs maintained that despite good performance, they were judged by employers who made decisions as to how they would perform, based on personal family challenges.
Because of that judgment, according to the report “They [workers] may be rejected for hire, passed over for promotion, demoted, harassed, or terminated.” The Wake-up Call This should be a HUGE wake-up call for employers to seriously consider workplace flexibility strategies. Not only because some of these plaintiffs are winning their cases, but because the culture of the workplace is changing at an exponential rate in any event. Time to get on the train. Here’s why, and this is nothing new:
- We’re a global 24/7 global marketplace
- Women comprise more than half the workforce and are often taking on one caregiving role or another
- Men are taking on more caregiving responsibilities
- Boomers will remain in workforce for longer period of time due to the economic meltdown
- People in general are living longer which means that employees might be taking care of children and aging parents at the same time
Here are some highlights from the Center’s report which reflect our changing world:
• Employees prevail in almost half of the cases, far more frequently than in other types of employment cases.
• Verdicts and settlements in family responsibilities discrimination cases average over $500,000.
• Cases have arisen in every state, in every industry, and at every level in organizations.
• Employers of all sizes have been sued, from small start-up companies to large multi-national corporations.
NPR’s Jennifer Ludden did an insightful and moving feature on the report and it’s implications which you can listen to here: More Workers Alleging Bias Against Caregivers. (full disclosure, I’m a contributor to NPR) How significant is this report? Is it a harbinger of things to come or will companies shrug it off? Can they afford to? Please share your thoughts.
To reach Judy head to JudyMartinSpeaks.com or WorkLifeNation.com