ADVANTAGES

Rhonda, a CPA at a mid-size accounting firm, mentioned to her boss that she had become the guardian of her niece and nephew and they were coming to live with her, so she would need a few days off to help them settle in. Rhonda’s boss expressed concern that Rhonda would be unable to balance her new family responsibilities with her demanding career, and was worried that Rhonda would suffer from stress and exhaustion. Two weeks later, he moved her from her lead position on three of the firm’s biggest accounts and assigned her to supporting roles handling several smaller accounts. In doing so, the boss told Rhonda that he was transferring her so that she “would have more time to spend with her new family,” despite the fact that Rhonda had asked for no additional leave and had been completing her work in a timely and satisfactory manner. At the end of the year, Rhonda, for the first time in her 7-year stint at the firm, is denied a pay raise, even though many other workers did receive raises. When she asks for an explanation, she is told that she needs to be available to work on bigger accounts if she wants to receive raises. Here, the employer has engaged in unlawful sex discrimination by taking an adverse action against a female employee based on stereotypical assumptions about women with caregiving responsibilities, even if the employer believed that it was acting in the employee’s best interest.

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