Strong Rise Seen in Family Responsibilities Discrimination Suits

July 10, 2006 ( - An increasing number of workers are going into court alleging that their employers discriminated against them because they had family responsibilities.

The report, published by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, found that 481 cases involving allegations of family responsibilities discrimination were filed from 1996 to 2005, according to Business Insurance. Workers filed 97 cases in the previous decade.

According to Business Insurance, the report cited the following reasons as possible causes of the trend:

  • the increasing number of mothers in the workforce
  • increasing discrimination by employers against workers with family responsibilities (such as caring for a baby or elderly relative)
  • employees’ growing awareness of their legal rights, and
  • civil rights legislation that has granted employees claiming sex discrimination the right to a jury trial and to recover punitive damages.

Most family responsibilities discrimination cases – 92.27% are filed by women. Employees win about 47% of these cases, according to the report, which defines a victory as any case not ruled in favor of the employer, including settlements where the employee receives money. The average award for these claims is slightly more than $100,000, while the largest award to date is $25 million, according to the report.

A full copy of the report, “Litigating the Maternal Wall: U.S. Lawsuits Charging Discrimination against Workers with Family Responsibilities,” is here .