Is Parental Status a Protected Category?
Parental discrimination is a reality that many parents face in the federal workplace. This type of discrimination can take many forms, and it can be incredibly damaging to both the victim and the workplace as a whole. As a form of discrimination, it is closely related to issues associated with pregnancy discrimination.
Examples of how parental status discrimination may manifest in the federal workplace include:
- Being passed over for promotions or raises due to responsibilities at home with a new child.
- Receiving negative comments or attitudes from coworkers or supervisors about parental responsibilities or changing schedules to accommodate a new child.
- Being denied training opportunities because of assumptions about time constraints or commitments related to parenting.
- Being given less desirable assignments or projects because of the perception that new parents are unable to handle the workload or stress.
- Being excluded from team events or meetings that occur outside of traditional working hours under the assumption that parenting duties would interfere.
- Experiencing a reduction in hours or being forced into part-time status following parental leave.
- Being denied reasonable requests for flexible working hours or arrangements needed to balance work and parenting.
However, under federal law, parental status is not explicitly listed as a protected category. That said, various pieces of legislation may indirectly offer some protection to parents. For instance, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who take leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
Similarly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when read in conjunction with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, which could extend to some new parents. Nonetheless, the law's scope and enforcement can often be unclear, leaving new parents vulnerable to discriminatory practices.
What Steps Can You Take If You Feel Discriminated Against as a New Parent?
If you believe that you're facing discrimination at your federal job due to your status or responsibilities as a parent, it's crucial to consult with a legal professional experienced in federal employment law. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have grounds to bring a discrimination case before the EEOC. The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC, is a team of skilled attorneys who can guide you through this complex process.
Understanding the Federal EEOC Complaint Process
If you believe you have been a victim of discriminatory hiring practices at your federal workplace, you might consider filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The following steps outline the EEO complaint process:
- Consultation with an EEO Counselor
- Formal Complaint Filing
- Request for Hearing
If, after your hearing, your complaint is denied, you may have further recourse to:
- File an Appeal
- Submit a Request for Reconsideration
- File a Lawsuit
Legal representation is highly recommended when navigating this process due to its complexity and potential impact on your career.
When Should You Get an Attorney Involved?
The importance of seeking legal advice early in the EEOC complaint process cannot be overstressed. Engaging an attorney at the outset can significantly improve your chances of success. An attorney can help you understand your rights, gather and present evidence effectively, and provide representation during hearings.
Remember, when it comes to legal matters, particularly those involving potential discrimination, the sooner you involve an attorney, the better. Reach out to our team online to schedule a consultation.