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The Practical Employer

The Practical Employer

It's Not Ozzie and Harriet's World Anymore

Women have the right to work, and neither they, nor their spouses, should be punished for exercising that right, regardless of their chosen profession.

March 10, 2014
Related Topics: Values, Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Diversity, Ethics, Scheduling, Legal, Workplace Culture
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I rarely write about active cases I’m handling. In fact, I can only think of one other time that I was mad enough to do so. Today marks time number two. Each involves a galling lack of professional courtesy.

I’m currently in the middle of a contentious piece of litigation in western Pennsylvania. The witnesses, however, are scattered all of the country, including two in Dallas, who I had to go to court to defeat a motion to compel their attendance in PA for their depositions. On Friday, I received a phone call from plaintiff’s counsel (who is in his mid to upper 70s), in which he told me he intended to take their depositions in Dallas this coming Wednesday and Thursday. I responded that even if they could be available on such short notice (they can’t be), I’m unavailable because my wife is traveling those two days for her job and one of us needs to be home with the kids.

His response floored me. He says, “You’re a lawyer. It’s unprofessional for you to plan your schedule around your wife. She should be at home taking care of the kids.”

We don’t live in an Ozzie & Harriet world anymore. Long gone are the days when a wife would be waiting at home to greet her husband with a pair of slippers and a martini while she put dinner on the table. Women work. My wife (who, by the way, gave up her career for 6 years to stay at home with our children) has restarted her career. Her job requires her to travel, which means we share a travel calendar. To make sure that our kids are never abandoned, we clear all travel with the other’s out-of-town schedule before making our own business arrangements.

Readers, please don’t carry this attitude into your business. There is only one unhappy ending to telling one of your employees that his wife, or she, belongs at home with the children. It starts with law- and ends with -suit. Women have the right to work, and neither they, nor their spouses, should be punished for exercising that right, regardless of their chosen profession.

As for which one of us in my tale was acting unprofessionally, I leave that decision up to you.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.  For more information, contact Hyman at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com. Follow Hyman on Twitter at @jonhyman.

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