Fathers in the Workplace


In honor of Father’s Day and since I’m also a father, for this blog article I thought I’d take a look at some of the issues that fathers deal with in the workplace.  It has become clear over the last decade or two, given the increased number of cases that employment law attorneys see from aggrieved fathers, that dads are facing challenges in balancing work and family life for the first time in history.

Many men these days are taking an increased interest in family life and in their roles as fathers.  Juggling the stresses of work and home is not new to mothers, but when fathers are faced with the same circumstances they are often under a different level of pressure from employers and colleagues.  Outright denial of leave for family issues is common.  Increased pressure, harassment, and negative employment consequences are also frequently reported.

Fathers are often more likely than mothers to log in long hours at work and report feeling greater levels of work/life conflict than do women who are workers as well as mothers.  They also suffer from the same “put everyone else first” syndrome that mothers often feel victimized by.

The new father-workplace struggle has received quite a bit of press lately.  The White House even held a Summit on Working Families and included a session on working dads.  TODAY conducted a Modern Dad Survey which addressed the changing roles of fathers in our society.  Scientific American also published a book entitled Do Fathers Matter?: What is the Science Telling us about the Parent we’ve Overlooked.

A recent study done by the Harvard Business Review asked fathers to rate their level of satisfaction with four areas of their lives: work, family, personal, and community.  As part of the study fathers were asked to rank on a scale of 1 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (fully satisfied), how they perceived their satisfaction with each of the above mentioned four areas of their lives.

Fathers reported an initial personal well being rating of 4.3 which contrasted to 7.4 and 6.5 respectively with work and family.

Though the number remains small, some companies are starting to address the needs of fathers in the workplace.  Ford Motor Company offers a reduced work week, with some employees working 70% schedules.  Even so, those employees still feel pressure from colleagues and supervisors when requesting the accommodations.

Met Life, American Express and Ernst & Young are two other companies that offer support for expectant and new fathers.

Even so, most companies are quicker to promote and recognize employees who give everything to their careers at the expense of their families.

Employers still tend to promote people who appear willing to sacrifice all for their careers, says Jessica DeGroot, founder of ThirdPath Institute, an organization that advocates better work-life policies. Most current leaders rose to the top under the old rules and that shapes their thinking about what it takes to succeed, she adds.

That approach will have to change as companies realize that their future leaders—both men and women—will turn down promotions or curb their ambitions without greater support for their parenting roles, says Brad Harrington of the Boston College Center for Work & Family.

California Fathers

Fathers in California are probably some of the most protected fathers in the nation.  Typically rules that prevent poor performance evaluations, demotions, denial of promotions, termination or any other unfavorable consequences relating to the terms or conditions of employment that affect women, also apply to fathers.

In addition, with the increased occurrence of gay couples marrying and adopting or having children, California law makers are striving to keep pace with the ever evolving family definitions.

As we will discuss in a future article, Assembly Bill 1522, currently under debate in the California Assembly would amend the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to allow for increased access to paid sick leave for not only the employee but also for the employee’s family members.  It also prohibits discrimination and retaliation against employees who request such leave.

While it is clear that there has been some recognition of a working father’s role in the family and our increased interest in participating in the upbringing of our children, there still seems to be a long way to go in order to make things acceptable to fathers who want to throw off the old stereotypes that have plagued us in the past.  Gone are the days of dad coming home at 7pm, having dinner and then retiring to the study to watch TV or read the paper until bed time.

Hopefully employers and lawmakers can come together to create a more favorable atmosphere for dads in the workplace, giving us a truly happy Father’s Day in years to come.

If you feel that you have been discriminated or retaliated against because you have requested a legally recognized leave of absence in order to care for yourself or a family member, or if you feel that you have been the victim of harassment because you have expressed a desire to take a more active role in parenting, contact the law offices of Stephen Danz & Associates at (877) 789-9707 or use the Contact Form on our website to schedule a free consultation today.

Stephen Danz is one of the most experienced employment lawyers in California, having defended employees across the state and around the globe for more than 30 years.  He is the clear choice if you are seeking a labor lawyer for your employment law case.