Single parents often face challenges in the workplace. They may not be able to work standard hours because of childcare demands and may have to take time off if a child is ill or seriously injured. Although it is not illegal as of 2011 to discriminate against single parents in most states, single parents retain a number of workplace rights.
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No Anti-Discrimination Laws
There are no federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on family status, according to Workplace Fairness. Thus, it is legal for an employer to discriminate in hiring or promoting single parents. However, employers may not discriminate based on sex. Therefore, if an employer schedules a single mother for longer hours than the men in her department, he could be sued for sex discrimination. As of 2011, Alaska and the District of Columbia have laws against discrimination based on family status.
Workplace Fairness reports that some courts have ruled that religious organisations may engage in practices such as firing single parents because of religious prohibitions against sex outside of marriage. However, these organisations must hold both men and women to the same standards -- i.e., both sexes must be fired for similar offences. If the organisation treats men and women differently, it may be liable for a sex discrimination lawsuit.
An employer may schedule another employee to work overtime to compensate for hours that a single parent cannot work due to childcare commitments or require another employee to cover the single parent's job while he picks up children from school or attends to other childcare issues. Workplace Fairness reports that these types of scheduling discrepancies are not considered discriminatory in most cases. Furthermore, employers are free to promote the worker who covers a single parent's shift during absences before the single parent.
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