Are Parents Protected From Discrimination as Federal Employees?

Parents face a considerable amount of challenges on a daily basis. Whether juggling a conference call with a newborn or rushing to pick up their sick children from school, parents often have two full-time jobs to navigate. In order to ensure parents are treated fairly and with respect, the federal, state, and local governments enforce strict laws against discrimination and harassment. 

Unfortunately, even with laws and regulations in place, parents still struggle with discriminatory behavior and retaliation in the workplace. As a federal employee, you have the right to a safe and enjoyable workplace. If you believe a supervisor or other individual is discriminating against you or maltreating you due to your status as a parent, speak with an experienced employment lawyer in Alexandria to learn about your rights and legal options.

Laws Protecting Parents From Discrimination as Federal Employees

The United States defines a protected class as a group of individuals protected from discrimination based on specific characteristics or status. While state and local laws may also dictate certain protections, the following are noted under federal law:

  • Age
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth and related medical conditions

Parental status is not explicitly stated, but mothers may still receive protection depending on their medical condition, whether they are pregnant, or if their pregnancy results in a disability.  While no federal law explicitly protects parents from workplace discrimination, there are protections in place that can be used to address such unlawful behavior. Some of these include:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child. It also allows an individual to use the leave to care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious medical condition. The FMLA requires employers to maintain the employee’s health benefits during the leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

While this law is specifically for child bearers, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offers considerable protection for pregnant individuals who may be unable to perform certain duties due to their pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. The PDA requires employers to treat pregnant employees similarly to those with temporary disabilities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of protected characteristics. This also includes discriminating against employees based on protected activities as well. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

For pregnant employees, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide reasonable break times for mothers to allow them to express breast milk for one year after the birth of their child. In order to ensure the mother’s safety and health, employers must also provide a private, non-bathroom space for this purpose.

Executive Order 13152

It’s essential to note that federal employees and applicants are protected from discrimination based on their status as a parent, caregiver, or family member by Executive Order 13152. This includes ensuring federal employment policies and practices are free from discrimination based on parental status.

Many regulations and laws are in place to protect parents from discrimination in the workplace. However, if you believe someone has acted unlawfully and discriminated against you as a parent, you have the right to hold them accountable and seek legal action.

Speak With Attorney Tom Spiggle for a Professional Employment Lawyer in Alexandria

When you are struggling to juggle being a full-time federal employee and parent, the last thing on your mind is facing discrimination in your workplace. You may first disregard the behavior as a simple joke, but as time passes, it becomes draining and harmful to your physical and mental health. Before you write anything off, contact The Spiggle Law Firm. We have years of experience protecting Virginia residents and advocating for the rights of employees. Fighting discrimination and harassment in the workplace is difficult, but our team will guide you every step of the way. Complete our contact form or call (202) 980-3857 to speak with one of our team members today.

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