More Men Fighting Gender Discrimination at Work
By Gerri Elder
Many lawyers who handle personal injury claims, employment and family law issues say that the number of men who are filing workplace-related lawsuits and claims is growing. A larger number of men are coming forward to say that they have been sexually harassed on the job or have been denied family leave time to care for their minor children.
According to a report by the National Law Journal, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has noted that 2007 was a record year for the number of sexual harassment claims filed by male employees. During 2007, men accounted for 16 percent of all sexual harassment complaints. This is nearly double the number of the same type of complaints filed by men in the early 1990s.
Men are also demanding their fair share of time off to care for their families. Lawyers are noticing that a growing number of men are filing Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. The rising number of men seeing time off to care for their children may be in part to a larger number of single fathers raising children on their own, but some are simply family men who wish to take a larger role in taking care of their children.
Some lawyers say that the increase in personal injury and workplace-related lawsuits being filed by men is a byproduct of the father's rights movement. With a larger number of men now asserting their parental rights through the court system, the movement is now expanding with respect to labor laws. It's all about equality and the pendulum swings both ways.
Charles Siedlecki is an employee rights lawyer in Chicago. He tells the National Law Journal that he is currently representing several men who are pursuing FMLA claims because they have been retaliated against for taking time off from work to care for themselves, their children or elderly parents.
Siedlecki won a record-breaking $11.65 million jury verdict in a caregiver bias lawsuit filed by a man who says his employers retaliated against him after he took time off under FMLA to care for his elderly parents. Siedlecki says that men who use their federally guaranteed right to time off under FMLA generally have lost their edge for any career advancement when they return to work.
Other lawyers that handle personal injury and workplace-related claims have also noticed a rise in the number of men who need their services. Although many employers do now strive to establish gender-neutral policies, there are still stereotypes against men in the workplace. With more men willing to take a stand against these stereotypes, lawyers expect that more will come forward to file workplace-related lawsuits and claims related to gender discrimination and sexual harassment.