Parental-Status Employment Discrimination: A Wrong in Need of a Right?

This Article evaluates strategies to challenge employment discrimination based on parental status. Specifically, it examines proposals put forth by some commentators to establish parental status as a protected class. While such a suggestion is attractive, the Article argues that it ultimately offers few practical advantages and remains wedded to a limited conception of equality, requiring only that employment decisions not reflect differences based on parenthood. Consequently, such a strategy would satisfy anti-discrimination legislation so long as both men and women with parental obligations are equally ill-treated. The Article concludes that a shift in perspective from gender to parental status 1iill not foster meaningful change in the situation of working parents without a parallel shift in legal strategies to resolve work-family conflicts. The model must change from one of formal equality to one that requires the workplace to accommodate the parenting obligations of workers.