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Fathers experience discrimination, also

Massachusetts fathers who take advantage of their company's Family and Medical Leave Act or paternity leave may experience both overt and more subtle discrimination in the workforce.

As seen by the brouhaha surrounding a Major League Baseball player's decision to take a three-day paternity leave, the culture of sports still has very macho elements. But do the same discriminatory practices that may subconsciously affect the promotion and hiring of women who are mothers also have an effect of fathers?

A sociology professor at Indiana University studied testimonies that were provided to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and made some surprising discoveries. Males who sought to take family leave had the perception of being less masculine and were at a higher risk for being let go or demoted. Additionally, men who took leaves of absence to care for an elderly parent or a child were perceived to be less of an "organizational citizen" than men who never used leave for those purposes.

Men in other states have launched some successful legal challenges to alleged discriminatory work practices. A law enforcement officer won a six figure settlement from a Maryland jury in 2001 after being denied the right to take FMLA leave to care for his newborn.

The presumption has been in the past that the mother remains the caretaker after a split, but with many Massachusetts dads fighting for and winning primary custody in divorce courts, it is likely that there will continue to be a rise in the cases of fathers who need to take family leave to care for their families. Addressing these discriminatory practices will take some time as attitudes change and employers learn to accept the new normal.

A Massachusetts family law attorney can offer some guidance to fathers who find themselves the primary caretakers of their children should they need to exercise their rights to family leave.

Source: Huffington Post, "Are Fathers Punished at Work Too?" Tom Spiggle, Apr. 07, 2014

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