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Discrimination Against Single Mothers in the Workplace

Many employees face discrimination in the workplace because of their race, age, disability, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Others are discriminated against because of their marital or family status. This is especially true for single mothers.

Many single mothers are in their situation because they are divorced or widowed. These women are often hardworking and dedicated to their jobs. However, employers often see single mothers as negative influences on the company instead of valuable assets. Many employers make unfair assumptions about single mothers. They may think they lack commitment to their jobs and focus more on their children. Instead of communicating with single mothers about their goals and schedules, they demote them, turn them down for promotions, and even terminate them unjustly.

Juggling work and family is challenging enough. Many single mothers, even ambitious ones, must also face discrimination in the workplace. According to a study, a woman with children was 79% less likely to be hired than a childless one. A mother receives, on average, $11,000 less in salary and is held to higher performance standards.

This discrimination, called maternal wall bias, can stall their career, making them unable to move forward. Because they cannot get a pay raise, it can be difficult for a woman to support her children. They may be forced to work multiple jobs or find a better-paying one.

Under state and federal laws, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for parents. This may include a more convenient shift or extra time off for family issues, such as a sick child. At the very least, the employer should communicate with the employee and not simply assume that the employee will have ongoing special needs simply because she is a parent.

How Single Mothers can Protect Themselves

In the past, single mothers had just gone with the flow, not making any waves. However, with workplace discrimination cases getting more attention in recent years, judges are more likely to favor discriminated employees in court cases. In fact, approximately two-thirds of employees will prevail at trial. These family responsibilities lawsuits have also grown by 400% between 1998 and 2008. When employers fail to follow the law, they can end up paying dearly. In some cases, the awards top $1 million, which can include economic, emotional, and punitive damages.

Women can protect themselves by looking for biases in the workplace. These would include assuming that female workers prefer being home with their families rather than working or assuming that a woman’s family responsibilities will make it more difficult for her to succeed in the workplace.

Some examples of discrimination single mothers may face include:

  • Being fired because they are pregnant or will take maternity leave.
  • Not being flexible with the work schedules of single parents, while giving flexible schedules to employees without children.
  • Not being promoted simply because they have children.
  • Lying about performance issues in order to justify the dismissal of employees who are single mothers

Contact a New York Discrimination Lawyer

Many single mothers are hard workers, but some employers do not see it that way. They see single mothers as incapable of making a commitment to work. They deny them for promotions and raises, making it hard for these parents to succeed.

If you have faced discrimination from your employer simply because you are a single parent, the attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can take action on your behalf. Schedule a free consultation by calling our office today at (347) 464-8694.

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