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« Question: Support for Telecommuting at Law Firms | Main | Novant Health Legal Department Wins Award for Work Life Balance Initiatives »

Nassau County DA Forbids Part Time Schedules for Working Lawyer Moms

We know this is probably old news to most readers - Kathleen M. Rice, the new district attorney in Nassau County, N.Y., announced she will not allow part-time work in her office and told the dozen prosecutors or so in the office -- mostly women working a reduced schedule to spend more time with their children -- to either ramp up to full time or leave.

The question is whether Rice is setting up the DA's office for a "work life balance" lawsuit. In a previous post, we reported on the findings of Mary Still, a sociologist, and author of a new study published by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, that there has been a 400% increase in the last decade in the number of lawsuits filed by workers alleging that they were discriminated against by their employers because of caregiving responsibilities at home for a parent or child.

Joan Williams, executive director of the Center for WorkLife Law, calls policies like that implemented by Rice, "Family Responsibilities Discrimination", or FRD. To illustrate the point that FRD causes of action are being increasingly accepted in court, Williams shared examples such as these:

  • A school psychologist's right to sue was upheld when she accused her district of denying her tenure after telling her it was ''not possible to be a good mother and have this job.''
  • A sales representative for a mattress company was granted $1.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages (later reduced by the court to $301,500 because of a statutory cap) when she was denied a promotion because she had children and her supervisor ''did not think she'd want to relocate her family.''
  • A woman who was being paid less per hour because of a part-time schedule was awarded $500,000.

See further discussion in a recent article on LexisOne.

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