Work-Life Balance and Sex Discrimination Antidiscrimination law has been critical in allowing women to pursue careers and in providing some refuge from the professional disadvantages of pregnancy experienced at some workplaces. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that discrimination with regard to pregnancy is treated as a form of sex discrimination. Broadly, the PDA requires that pregnant employees be treated the same as all other employees with temporary disabilities. In general, an employer should not ask job applicants about pregnancy, and applicants have no duty to reveal that pregnancy. Nor can a pregnant employee be forced to take time off or be forced to quit due to pregnancy. FRD “Family Responsibilities Discrimination” has achieved increased recognition in recent years. While no express antidiscrimination statutory protection is afforded to parents or caregivers, FRD claims may be based on existing statutes such as Title VII. For example, in Chadwick v. Wellpoint, Inc., a federal appeals court allowed the mother of 6-year-old triplets and an older child to proceed with a Title VII claim alleging that she was rejected for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified woman as a result of a sex-based stereotype that mothers with young children neglect their careers because of child care responsibilities. 39 [For the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on FRD, see “EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities” at www .eeoc.gov/policy/docs/ caregiving.html ] Questions 1. Waitresses at the Rustic Inn were prohibited under a written policy from waiting tables past their fifth month of pregnancy and required either to suspend working or to switch to working as cashiers or hostesses, who are paid less since they do not receive gratuities. The EEOC filed a lawsuit against the employer on behalf of a class of three aggrieved employees, alleging that the policy violated the PDA. Decide. See EEOC v. W&O Inc. , 213 F.3d 600 (11th Cir. 2000). 2. Besides avoiding FRD liability, how might an employer benefit from effectively supporting employees’ balancing of work and life responsibilities? Should parents and other caregivers be given express statutory protection against employment discrimination? Explain.
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