Wednesday, June 24, 2009

IT employment (especially contracting) and "family responsibility discrimination" (FRD): a troubling problem

While in a doctor’s office recently, I noticed a June 2009 HR Magazine (SHRM) article in print on the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of family responsibility – not just pregnancy or motherhood, but various other situations, including eldercare or the presence of a disabled dependent in the home.

The University of California Hastings College of Law has a paper “Work Life Law” dated 2006 on FRD discrimination, or “family responsibility discrimination”, link here. Discrimination issues might occur more often in the future with single or childless people who wind up taking care of an elderly parent, because of demographics and rapidly increasing life spans.

In practice, information technology can find this challenging. Many jobs require on call responsibilities, and many jobs are short term contracts where work can be severely disrupted by an absence, such as unpaid leave taken under the FMLA. In many cases people are not hired for “no reason”, as employers or clients can never admit to “illegal reasons.” The sad truth is, when applying for a job like this, it’s probably better not to mention the home situation. But then you will have to deal with it later.

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