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Fathers may be penalized at work for family time

Texas readers may be well aware of the fact that women are frequently penalized in the workplace for becoming mothers. On the other hand, studies show that men with families are seen as favorable hires by those who make hiring decisions. For some, men with a family are viewed as reliable, according to researchers. However, this same body of research indicates that men may be penalized if they take paternity leave or time off to spend time with their families.

There are protections in place for individuals who take time away from work to care for or spend time with a family member. The Family and Medical Leave Act bars companies with 15 or more employees from demoting or firing a worker for taking time off to be with his or her child. A Maryland state police officer won a jury verdict of $375,000 in 2011 after the police department denied his request to take FMLA leave to be with his newborn child. His supervisor found him ineligible for leave stating that he did not qualify as a primary caregiver for the child.

In a more recent case, a young male associate in a large Massachusetts law firm filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired for taking FMLA leave to care for his young children and wife. He claimed that he was treated poorly by the law firm for not fitting into what he described as a macho company culture and instead chose to be a caregiver for his family.

A person who is penalized in the workplace for taking time off to care for ailing or dependent family members may be entitled to financial compensation. A lawyer with a background in workplace discrimination cases may be able to evaluate the plaintiff's case and provide representation through negotiations and, if necessary, litigation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Are Fathers Punished at Work Too?", Tom Spiggle, April 09, 2014

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