Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day: Chadwick v. Wellpoint & Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Moms who work outside the home may find some comfort in the First Circuit's decision in Chadwick v. Wellpoint, 561 F.3d 38 (1st Cir. 2009), in which the court held that Laurie Chadwick, the mother of an 11-year-old son and 6-year-old triplets, had presented sufficient evidence to show that she was denied a promotion based on sex stereotypes about childcare responsibilities:
Given what we know about societal stereotypes regarding working women with children, we conclude that a jury could reasonably determine that a sex-based stereotype was behind [the decisionmaker's] explanation to Chadwick that, "It was nothing you did or didn't do. It was just that you're going to school, you have the kids and you just have a lot on your plate right now." 
Chadwick is the most mom-friendly decision I know of. It arguably establishes a presumption that adverse actions taken against women based on family responsibilities are grounded in sex stereotypes that working mothers are are not reliable. Thus, in Chadwick's case, because the decisionmaker's statement explicitly referenced Chadwick's childcare responsibilities as one of the reasons for denying her a promotion, a reasonable jury could conclude that a father with four young children would not have been denied a promotion.

This blog reflects the views solely of its author. It is not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice on how to analyze any particular set of facts.