Study: Discrimination Has a More Severe Effect on Low-Wage Earners

The consequences of workplace discrimination are most severe for low-wage workers, according to a recent study by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. 

The combination of family caregiving demands, limited financial resources, few social supports, workplace penalties, and employment discrimination strain low-wage workers more than those who earn better wages, the study found.  The result is that low-wage earners are in constant risk of falling into unemployment and seeking state support.

This study, presented by Stephanie Bornstein, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law, examined 2,600 workplace discrimination lawsuits brought by low-wage workers.  The project focused on family responsibilities discrimination (FRD)—defined as discrimination based on responsibilities that an employee might have to their families—experienced by low-wage workers, which ranged from discriminating against pregnant women and men who have caregiving roles to neglecting to inform (or denying) workers of their legal rights around caregiving.

The study cites FRD as a critical obstacle, keeping low-income families from financial and social stability, and calls for “consistent workplace policies and greater training at all levels of the organization.”