WorkLife Law Blog

WorkLife Law aims to end Family Responsibilities Discrimination, which is employment discrimination against workers who have family caregiving obligations. It includes discrimination against parents of young children, pregnant women, and workers who have aging or sick parents, spouses, or partners.

Monday, November 20, 2006


New Family Responsibilities Discrimination Treatise

It’s here! We are pleased to announce that WorkLife Law’s Guide to Family Responsibilities Discrimination has finally been published!

Here's the press release:

Legal Guide to Family Responsibilities Discrimination is Published

Treatise is First of its Kind in Growing Area of Employment Law

SAN FRANCISCO, CA A woman’s position is eliminated while she is on maternity leave. A father who takes time off to be with his kids is taken off important assignments. A mother isn’t considered for promotion because her supervisor thinks she won’t want to work any additional hours now that she has little ones at home. A man is fired when he asks for leave to care for his dying father.

All of these employees are facing Family Responsibilities Discrimination, a rapidly growing area of employment law. FRD can affect pregnant women, mothers and fathers of young children, and workers who take time off to care for their aging parents. Attorneys who represent such employees now have a groundbreaking resource for information about discrimination against workers who care for family members.

WorkLife Law’s Guide to Family Responsibilities Discrimination is the first treatise of its kind. Published by the Center for WorkLife Law, the 160-page Guide provides a thorough overview of the federal and state laws that can be used to protect workers who have family caregiving obligations. It provides practice tips, an extensive compilation of case law, and a special section on research about bias against mothers. The Guide is in loose-leaf format to allow easy updating in this rapidly expanding area of the law.

FRD typically arises when employers make personnel decisions based on outdated stereotypes or assumptions about employees with caregiving obligations, such as pregnant workers will have excessive absences and will quit their jobs, mothers of young children aren’t as competent, fathers who are actively involved in childrearing are not committed to their jobs, and workers who have to care for sick or aging parents won’t be as productive. The caregivers could face termination, non-promotion, loss of bonus, hostile comments, poor job assignments, unwarranted criticisms, or unusual scrutiny. Whether these actions are discrimination in the eyes of law will vary with each situation. The aim of the Guide is to help attorneys who represent employees recognize the common fact patterns of FRD and use the best legal tools available.

The Guide was written by Joan C. Williams and Cynthia Thomas Calvert. Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of the Law and founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law. She authored the award-winning book Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000). Calvert, deputy director of WorkLife Law, is an employment attorney.

The Center for WorkLife Law is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that works with employers, employees, attorneys, legislators, journalists, and researchers to identify and prevent FRD. It was founded as the Program on Gender, Work & Family at American University Washington College of Law in 1998, and moved to UC Hastings College of the Law in 2005. WorkLife Law is supported by research and program development grants, university funding, and private donations.

Ordering information for the Guide, and more information about FRD, can be found at WorkLife Law’s web site,

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Athe WorkLife Law web site, you can get more information, read an excerpt, or order a copy.

The Guide is a work in progress and will be updated frequently as new cases and research become available. You can help us with our updating process – if you are involved with an FRD case, please jot us an email and let us know.

I just found this blog. I will definitely bookmark it, as it seems like an incredible resource. I just read a case from the 10th Circuit yesterday (Green v. Board of County Commissioners) that, while the plaintiff doesn't present a family responsibility claim, she almost does. It's an interesting case that you might be interested in reading.

Peter Mullison
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