Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Family responsibilities discrimination ("FRD") claims have become a far more prevalent issue in employment cases. FRD is a workplace discrimination based on an employee's actual or perceived responsibility to care for a family member, including pregnancy discrimination. Although some states and local jurisdictions have passed legislation that specifically prohibits FRD in the workplace, no federal statute expressly prohibits FRD. This Note focuses on how state and local government employees who face FRD can use federal employment statutes such as 42 U.S.C. section 1983 ("Section 1983") to enforce their constitutional due process and equal protection rights. Part I of this Note defines FRD, highlights its importance, addresses the various types of claims it creates and employees it affects, and explores the biases or stereotypes that trigger it. Part II examines two statutes that state and local government employees can use to prosecute FRD cases. The two statutes are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and Section 1983. Part III argues that a plaintiff facing FRD should pursue both Title VII and Section 1983 claims when they are available because of the overlapping legal standards and remedies under both claims. Finally Part IV addresses how an FRD plaintiff can frame an optimal Section 1983 claim.