Larry Elder

So, here's the drill.

First, the Feds pass a law mandating unpaid family and medical leave. Second, many states up the ante by passing laws requiring employers to pay employees to take such time off.

Now comes California with one better. Passing a proposal along party lines -- Democrats in favor and Republicans against -- the California State Senate seeks to prevent employers from refusing raises and promotions to employees with caregiving responsibilities that take time away from their work.

That's right. If family responsibilities cause you to leave work or work under a modified schedule, your employer cannot "punish" you by denying you a raise or promotion!?

A law professor who directs the Center for WorkLife Law, a research and advocacy center at San Francisco's UC Hastings law school, said, "This issue is bubbling up all over. There's a whole generation of women who take for granted that they should be entitled to have careers that they want and that they shouldn't be penalized for living up to very widely held ideals of motherhood."

Hey, conservatives say they want "family values," but dastardly employers contradict this by expecting employees to show up on time and put in the work. And, if one spends less time at work or requires odd hours, he or she loses out to another worker without outside family responsibilities. It just ain't fair.

Proponents of the law, of course, say that many of the people hurt by family responsibility discrimination are -- all together now -- people of color. So, expecting people to show up and do their work, while promoting the most productive workers, is . . . racist (and sexist, of course!).

The Bakersfield, Calif., fire department, a few years ago, denied a promotion to a male firefighter because his boss said he took too many sick days and traded shifts to juggle the responsibilities of his job and his role as primary caregiver to his three kids. His boss, in the firefighter's evaluation, said, "I encourage [him] to continue to explore alternative methods of providing child care" to allow him to "work as much as possible with his assigned crew." It was not good enough that his boss recognized the firefighter's familial responsibilities, kept him on, continued to pay him, while suggesting he do his best to show up on time with his crew. Why, Kunta Kinte had it better.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.