Friday, June 7, 2002
Single parents facing discrimination in workplace
A story published today by the Dayton Business Journal reports that Kiki Peppard, a 47-year-old woman who lives in Pennsylvania with her son and daughter, has been fighting what she calls family bias for years. She's made it her life's mission to get questions that pertain to marital status barred from interviews in the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, she even got one of her local lawmakers to sponsor a bill to prohibit discrimination in employment based on whether a person is married or has a family. It has yet to go to committee.
Kiki's gut feeling about the questions was that they must be illegal. She was partly correct. Such questions are illegal for companies to ask during a job interview, but only in certain states. Other states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, don't bat an eye at such questioning, according to 9 to 5 National Association for Working Women.
People who think they are being discriminated against can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But nothing can be done about it unless it is found that the company has treated single fathers in the same manner. And that's almost impossible to prove.
Still, it's an issue many women are facing, and often goes beyond the interview, according to Cindia Cameron, organizing director for 9 to 5.
"It also includes being passed over for promotion or more responsibility in the workplace," Cameron said. "It is a stereotype that says someone wouldn't be interested or able to make the move" because they have children.
The group 9 to 5 suggests these tips for women who feel they are being discriminated against in an interview or the workplace:
1. Ask the interviewer to explain why they've asked the questions. Tell them you would be happy to talk about that if you first could talk about your skills and accomplishments.
2. Try to talk to the interviewer about why they think being single matters. Then try to answer their concerns as well as dispel any myths they might have about how it would hurt your performance.
3. Try to find others in your company who might be in the same situation. Once you find that circle, come together and brainstorm ideas for how to address the issue with the company or ways that might dissolve any misconceptions.
4. If you feel you are being passed over for promotions or business trips, try to meet with your supervisor to talk about it. Be open about your situation and explain to them how much you want the opportunity to advance and be part of the team.