The Changing Relations of Family and the Workplace: Extending Antidiscrimination Laws to Parents and Nonparents Alike
The infusion of women into the workforce in the 1960s brought great freedom but also great difficulty. Without women at home to tend to the sick, raise children, care for the elderly, and manage households, workers of both sexes (but particularly women) struggle to balance this “care work” with outside wage work Laws which prohibit discrimination against employees because of their status as parents purport to solve this problem by allowing parents to perform child care without workplace conflict. In this Note, P.K. Runkles-Pearson argues that these laws are an incomplete and potentially dangerous solution to the tension between work and family, because they ignore the diverse care work needs of employees who do not parent. Ignoring non-parents leads to inefficient labor markets, leaves all groups including children-with less than optimal care, discourages reproductive choice, and provides an unbalanced discrimination remedy that contravenes the very nature of American antidiscrimination laws. Instead of the current system, Runkles- Pearson proposes antidiscrimination laws that protect both parents and nonparents from discrimination on the basis of their parental status.