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The managers where I work seem to favor those without children over those with children when it comes to promotions and other job changes.

The managers say it's all just coincidence. Basically, they told us "You're all just making stuff up. Now shut up and get back to work."

So here's what I'll do: I'll present the bare facts, and you can tell me whether or not these people are discriminating against parents.

See ya below.

I work in a warehouse facility with several different departments. Each department has one supervisor and at least one team lead. Each department also has a different start time (Receiving comes in earliest, for example; other start times are staggered throughout the day).

Some background:
Supervisors are salaried. They do not get "points" for being late; they are able to adjust their schedules as necessary, and are able to leave during work hours to take care of personal business.

Leads are paid hourly. They are assessed "points" for being late (with no exceptions for instances of heavy snowfall, say, or getting stuck behind a bad traffic accident while on the way to work), and days off must be scheduled five days in advance unless they opt to use sick time (thereby accepting the risk of termination if caught lying about being sick).

Management's current "big idea" is something they call "super-flex staffing." The idea is to reduce working staff to the bare minimum, and then move the associates and leads to different departments as dictated by the variable work load. Generally, supervisors do not move; they stay in their departments, even when there's nothing to do there. More is asked of our leads because, as management says, "They're supposed to leading by example."

Some facts:
Of our 12 supervisors, 3 have young children at home. Of those 3, 2 had their children after being hired or promoted. In the last six years, no one who is a parent has ever been promoted to supervisor at our facility (actually, only one has been promoted in the past three years. The one parent who was hired on as a supervisor appears to have been a fluke.)

Of our 15 leads, 3 have young children at home. Of those 3, 1 had his child after being hired or promoted. Only two (childless) leads have been hired or promoted in the past year--and both of those were to fill spots left open by parents who were forced to quit due to work/schedule conflicts. They can't change when school starts in the mornings; they can't change when their kids get home in the afternoon.

Not one of our managers, nor our facility's director, have young children at home (one has grown children, the others are childless).

At an average $10/hour, none of the hourly associates or leads make enough money to afford after-school care. Supervisors and managers, though, seem make enough that their spouses generally don't have to work.

The issue:
Since each department has its own start time, changing departments necessitates a change in schedule. Leads and associates with children who are asked to change departments for a week or longer must either adjust their schedules...or quit. This has already happened twice just this year. On two different occasions, a lead has been asked to change schedules. One quit after giving it a try but finding it too difficult; one ended up "pointing out" because she was late too often after getting her kids on the school bus.

When approached about changing schedules (and it's never a "request"; it's always their way or the highway), the lead says, "I can't start at 5am because I have a pre-schooler, and I can't very well drop him off at daycare at 4:30 in the morning."

Or, the lead says, "I can't work that late because I have kids, and I have to be there when they get home from school."

Management simply responds with this: "This is where we need you right now. Do what you have to do." And that's it. They don't seem to care about the people who work for them. All they seem to want are bodies to be available to do the work.

Now, all three leads who happen also to be parents are being asked to change their schedules. Only one of them has the external resources (her grandparents) available to make the adjustment being asked of her. The other two eventually will have to quit unless some last-minute miracle occurs.

One of the other two is me.

It seems to most of us (parents and non-parents alike) that there are many non-parent leads to choose from when considering who to move where. Isn't it strange that they tend only to move those few who have children? The insensitive and callous approach on management's part has sent our morale plummeting. And this comes after more than a year of letting people go but not replacing them, thanks to their big "super-flex staffing" idea, which has added extra responsibility to many--especially our leads--with no increase in pay. (In fact, the company froze our pay in January. But the decreased staff means decreased man-hours--which, when combined with tighter controls on our time and something they call "enhanced accountability" leading to an overall increase in productivity, ultimately translates to bigger bonuses to supervisors and managers.)

There's a lot of evidence on paper that "super-flex staffing" is having very positive effects on the facility--for the supervisors and managers, anyway. For the rest of us, our jobs have become a constant source of fear and uncertainty.

So what do you think?

Is management actively trying to weed out parents to improve their "super-flex staffing" bottom line?

Or are we, as management says, making a big deal out of nothing?

I'm seeking any advice on what can be done, if anything. By the way, this is a so-called "right-to-work" state, and the facility is (obviously) non-union.

Thanks for your interest, and thanks in advance for your advice.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:25:51 PM PDT

  •  I'm up late worrying about this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psilocynic, Utahrd

    I'll try to stick around to respond to comments, but I've got to get to bed.

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:27:51 PM PDT

  •  I have nothing really to say other than (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jennifree2bme, freesia, chimene

    I'm sorry you work for assholes.

    This comment may not be reproduced or excerpted on other sites without my express written permission.

    by psilocynic on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:42:35 PM PDT

  •  could be, I don't know (0+ / 0-)

    I do know that employers can screw you over and get away with it. The older you get the less people will hire you. Being a mom is a bad deal too. I've seen companies where black people that get hired never seem to stick around, and some people say racist BS.

    There's a lot of screwed up stuff that goes on. Hope it all works out with your job.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:52:15 PM PDT

  •  Ask your state and federal labor boards. eom (0+ / 0-)

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:54:23 PM PDT

  •  I was going to suggest a union but (0+ / 0-)

    you addressed that at the very end.  I've worked for jerks too, but with the benefit of a union. Unfortunately being a jerk is not illegal. I think the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is probably the point. If you could find another job you wouldn't have to put up with their nonsense (ya right, I know). I'm not sure what you could do, short of organizing all the employees to fight back in some way. Then you might all get fired. Good luck.

  •  My inlaws live with us. (0+ / 0-)

    So if the kids are sick, we can both go to work.  Heck, my sister-in-law (my wife's sister) is moving in soon so we'll have backup.

    I work in the most Republican state in the union, and we don't receive an "occurance" if we are late due to snow that's deep enough to make the news.  That's one of the few good things about paying the company president enough to live in Park City (where the snowboarding and skiing was held during the 2002 Winter Olympics).  He's very understanding about being caught in snow traffic.

  •  What a drag (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry your workplace is so unforgiving of the fact that people may have lives and responsibilities outside of work. God forbid we are more than work automatons with no other things going on in our lives!

    It seems to me that it is possible they are doing this deliberately but I kind of wonder what options you have. You could try talking to a lawyer who handles employment discrimination cases but that seems like a big and potentially difficult step. IANAL so I don't know whether this would be breaking any laws or not, unfortunately.

    Good luck!

  •  Hard to tell (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since there are apparently so few of you with kids, asking any of you to do something may be perceived as being singled out.

    It was hard to tell by the diary, but are the employees with kids the only ones asked to changed their schedules? Or are their others? And how many total promotions have there been?

    The only thing I can say is that middle management comes off as the bad guy in this situation, but all they're doing is what they are told to do by executive leadership. Their jobs are probably threatened in similar ways, even if it's not apparent.

  •  have you established a pattern of abuse (0+ / 0-)

    or merely observing anecdotal and self observational information?  It would seem your first step would be documentation of any such discrimination, if parents are a protected class.  If they are not, you could be out of luck.  Also does company have a good reason for their scheduling?
    After all discrimination can be acceptable if it is necessary.  Finally with class action suits more difficult now, it would seem this is not the atmosphere to make a stand on such issues


  •  I wish all the people who say that unions aren't (0+ / 0-)

    needed anymore, that worker abuse is in the past, would listen to stories like these. The more we disempower workers, the more companies will push, and push, and push. Corporations don't have ethics, except for those required by law (and sometimes not even those.)

    I'm pretty sure parental status isn't a protected class federally, although might be in your state. I also am pretty sure it's not illegal to harass someone until they quit (or if it is, companies are doing it every day and getting away with it.) I suspect that yes, they are trying to get rid of parents and yes, they will get away with it.

    Just curious - why don't they cover the missing slots with leads who are already working on that shift? Is there any chance the leads could get together and come up with a staffing alternative that would allow people to come in at the same time most of the time? Because even without childcare as an issue [and I'm a parent, so I get it] I can't imagine anyone would enjoy changing their wake and sleep times randomly throughout the month.

    (saw you mention your diary on lightbulb's comments, which is why my comment is so belated. Please update us as this goes on!)

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