Beware reverse sex discrimination when setting schedules and overtime policies

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

It isn’t unusual for fathers to have extensive child care responsibilities. Make sure your policies recognize that fact.

Don’t succumb to stereotypical thinking. For example, if you waive some work requirements so mothers can pick up their kids from day care, give fathers the same flexibility.

Recent case: Jeffery Johnson worked as a logistics coordinator on the day shift at Siemens. The company occasionally required employees to work overtime into the evenings.

That was a problem for Johnson because he sometimes needed to pick his child up at a day care center before it closed at 6 p.m. Siemens tried to accommodate Johnson’s schedule by giving him a day’s notice before he had to work overtime, so he could make other arrangements for picking up his child. But, he still had to work some overtime.

Later, Siemens exempted one of Johnson’s female co-workers from mandatory overtime while she went through a divorce and struggled to find day care for her children. Johnson complained that she was receiving preferential treatment.

One day, Johnson had an altercation with the female co-worker, and the company fired him for violating workplace conduct rules. Johnson sued, alleging that his firing was retaliation for complaining about unequal overtime rules.

The court acknowledged that men can bring a sex discrimination case—but dismissed this one on a technicality. It reasoned that at the time the female co-worker asked for the exemption, the company had hired more employees who could cover for her. Therefore, her situation wasn’t comparable to Johnson’s. (Johnson v. Siemens, No. 07-2014, 7th Cir., 2008)

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