Workplace Flexibility as a Respect Solution

By | 2017-01-13T13:42:07+00:00 November 1st, 2012|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: |Comments Off on Workplace Flexibility as a Respect Solution

As employees are increasingly burdened with caregiver responsibilities – not just for their own children but for aging parents and relatives – workplace flexibility is an increasingly attractive employment perk.

What does this mean?

Offering employees flexible and individually tailored means within which to get their work done. For example, have to take mom to a doctor’s appointment? Come in early, stay a little late, or work from home without taking a hit to your PTO. Offering such flexibility shows a tremendous amount of respect: I trust you will fulfill your responsibilities, albeit it not in a typical 9-5 manner, and I understand where you are. That’s a powerful message to send an employee.

There’s another good reason to consider adopting flexible workplace policies: compliance. The EEOC has taken an increased interest in family responsibility discrimination (FRD). While family responsibility is not a protected category under the anti-discrimination laws, such cases are increasingly pursued under a sex discrimination theory, where stereotypes of women as caregivers factor into employment decisions. Juries seem to be paying attention. Plaintiffs tend to win these types of cases more than any other kind of case. The largest jury award was $25 million for a single plaintiff, and the average award is $100,000. A good way for employers to protect themselves from these types of claims is allowing for workplace flexibility and training managers on avoiding such potentially illegal stereotyping.

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About the Author:

Sindy Warren
Sindy Warren is the principal of Warren & Associates LLC and an Associate Partner of Legacy Business Cultures. She is an HR and employment law consultant and uses her legal expertise to help clients create and maintain positive and legally compliant employment practices. Sindy creates and delivers training programs on harassment and discrimination and conducts independent workplace investigations. Sindy received her J.D. with honors from Stanford University. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University (Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude).