Monday, November 01, 2010
Parents Need Not Apply
Remember the days when employment ads were classified as “help wanted-female” and “help wanted-male”? Seems so quaint now, doesn’t it?
What doesn’t seem quaint is the current-day version: “help wanted-no childcare concerns.”
That’s for real. Silver Spring Dream Dinners placed an ad for part-time help that specifies the applicant must have own transportation, be able to work 10-20 hours per week (including evenings and weekends), be able to lift 50 pounds, and have “no school or childcare concerns.” Huh? Does that say mothers of young children need not apply? It sure sounds it. Dream Dinners might as well have said “the only people who can work here are those who don’t have young children.” After all, no parent could state with certainty that he or she has no childcare concerns. Kids get sick, blizzards happen, holidays crop up.
What makes this more surprising is that the ad is for an organization that makes its money catering to busy parents who work outside and inside the home, and the ad was placed on a mailing list, DC Urban Moms (and Dads), that is directed at parents of young children. What would the clientele say if they knew that the company discriminates against parents?
Dream Dinners might protest that it doesn’t mean to discriminate, that it just wants dependable workers who aren’t going to be pulled away by childcare emergencies. Yup, and the companies that hired only men circa 1965 just wanted competent, dependable workers who had someone at home full-time to take care of the family work. The problem with this type of thinking – aside from the fact that it is based on stereotypes and is unfair – is that it perpetuates work structures that are set up as if the norm is the unencumbered male.
Moreover, it is downright illegal. Dream Dinners would surely argue that at most it has discriminated against parents and that parents are not a protected category under state (Maryland) or federal law. Unfortunately for Dream Dinners, it is located in Montgomery County, which expressly prohibits “family responsibilities” discrimination in employment. The county ordinance defines “family responsibilities” as “the state of being financially or legally responsible for the support or care of a person . . . .” That certainly sounds like a person who might have childcare concerns, doesn’t it?
Note to Dream Dinners: You might want to reconsider your ad – and create a more flexible work environment – before your customers and the authorities find out.