A Legal Case for Work-Life Balance?

2941655917_cd7626cff3_zAs studies have shown, more and more moms are entering the workforce and the idea of finding work-life balance has become part of our regular conversations (we have written about it several times on this site).  But, a recent article in Fortune Magazine takes this conversation to the next level.  There is a growing number of gender discrimination lawsuits coming from big banks stating that the finance industry–thanks to its long hours and inflexible work schedules–does not allow working moms to succeed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Under U.S. employment law, any workplace rule that isn’t a “business necessity” cannot disproportionately affect one group more than another. It is reasonable to assume that women, as the primary childcare givers in most U.S. households, take on a majority of the tasks associated with running the home. As a result, any industry that prevents employees from adopting popular work-life-balance solutions — like working part-time or working from home — could be interpreted as illegal under U.S. employment law, says Marcia McCormick, the co-director of the Wefel Center for Employment Law at Saint Louis University School of Law .

“The structure of an industry, in terms of its family friendliness, might be evidenced as an intent to treat women differently,” says McCormick, referring to the “disparate impact” claim cited in most gender discrimination lawsuits. “If an employer knows that it is going to be harder for women in general to comply with a particular work rule and it adopts that work rule anyway, that’s discrimination on the basis of sex.”

While many experts agree that this issue will be resolved outside of our legal system, the real issue for industries such as finance is that failing to provide an environment where work-life balance can be achieved may mean giving up on top talent.  “Employers may think they don’t have a problem today finding enough good people willing to work 24/7, but that is very short-sighted. With baby boomers retiring, more women in the workforce and millennials often wanting a different relationship between work and life, they’ll be facing a talent shortage before they know it,” says Jody Miller, CEO of Business Talent Group.

Click here to read the entire article.

#GenWYour Turn:  Do think failing to provide work-life balance is gender discrimination?  Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.  Be sure to use the hashtag #GenW.




scale image courtesy of Hans Splinter/Flickr