CNN has reported that there are a growing number of male caregivers – and that they are suffering gender discrimination in the workplace.
We discussed the issue of family caregivers being subjected to employment discrimination in our September 3rd and September 4, 2012 blogs. Noting that the population is aging but must work at paid jobs during the economic downturn, and also work without pay providing care for elderly parents and other family members, we cited studies that they are treated disparately in the paid workplace. “It may take the form of limited flexibility, denied leave, or even a pink slip, but whatever the case, more instances of employers treating employees with caregiving responsibilities less favorably than other employees are coming to our attention.”
A 2011 MetLife study stated that the number of adult children who care for parents has tripled over the past 15 years, and an earlier MetLife study found that such caregivers frequently suffer from depression, diabetes, heart problems and hypertension. An AARP Public Policy Institute report claimed that there is an “emerging trend” of caregivers of older adults facing increasing discrimination in the workplace. While the AARP study described the hallmarks of what they call “family responsibilities discrimination” as limited flexibility, denial of leave, or even termination, the 2011 SHRM survey reported that cost-conscious employers are, in fact, cutting eldercare benefits, which benefits have been shown to reduce absenteeism, increase employee loyalty, improve employee health, and reduce employee turnover.
Now, with men becoming a larger percentage of family caregivers, employers are resisting accommodating them based upon the old stereotype of males being the "breadwinners." Between 2006 and 2010, the number of family responsibility discrimination cases brought by males increased by 300% as compared to the period 2001 and 2005. An EEOC attorney said that "Employers are often more relaxed in applying blatant sexual discrimination against male caregivers. When invoking parental leave, some supervisors might say 'Oh no, that's for women.' There are some pretty entrenched stereotypes."
The times they are a changin'.