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Monday, October 01, 2007

Work-life balance wins legal support

What if a job applicant says in the interview that she can only take the job if flex-time is available because she has child care issues or an elderly parent at home to care for?

An article in the National Law Journal says a new statute might very well mean that the employer's refusal to hire her would open it up to a lawsuit. The law isn't there yet (in most states, anyway), but it may be soon. A framework is being erected. How did this come about? How far might it go?

The new buzzword is "FRD" — family responsibilities discrimination — or unfair treatment based on an employee's obligations to family. The thinking is that as boomers age, people increasingly will have limited employment opportunities because of family responsibilities -- this would apply to men and women, professionals and lower-paid workers.

FRD already is making its way into state laws, local ordinances and direction from the federal government. For now, it is disguised as employment discrimination, sex discrimination or caregivers discrimination. The academics, the advocates, the administrators and the judges are all dealing with it.

Labor lawyers predict it is only a matter of time until legislators bring FRD out into the open and wearing its own name --as a new federal law. Would this be a good thing?


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