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Chapter 2 provides an overview of caregiver discrimination in the workplace. It provides a history of the gendered norms that still affect our workplaces and our lives. It describes the three facets of what I call the “caregiver conundrum”—(1) not enough time; (2) not enough money and opportunities for advancement; and (3) the stereotypes affecting caregivers in the workplace. The chapter then discusses several “lackluster laws” that fail to provide sufficient protection for working caregivers. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against sex discrimination; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects against discrimination based on pregnancy; and the Family and Medical Leave Act, which mandates job-protected leave in certain circumstances. This chapter demonstrates how inadequate the protections are for most workers who are trying to balance work and family, despite these three laws.
In the wake of the pandemic, many employers continue to allow their employees to work from home, but much of the workplace remains governed by strict structural norms such as shifts, schedules, attendance, and leave-of-absence policies that determine when and where work is performed. In The Workplace Reimagined, Nicole Buonocore Porter explores how these workplace norms marginalize people with disabilities and workers with caregiving responsibilities. Using COVID-19 as a lens to illustrate how entrenched workplace norms are often not inevitable or necessary, Porter theoretically and practically reconceptualizes the workplace to end the stigmatization of these employees and helps readers understand the value of accommodating all workers. The Workplace Reimagined is timely, eye-opening, and will help us realize a workplace in which we account for the reality, the precarity, and the diversity of all our lives and bodies.
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