A 2013 Supreme Court decision, The United States vs. Windsor, expanded the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act to same-sex spouses in states where gay marriage is legal. The expanding recognition of gay couples and the growing proportion of women in the workforce have changed the way employers treat family issues and how people talk about them on the job.
But, what about people who don't have children? Communication researchers who interviewed childless individuals for a study recently published online in the National Communication Association's Journal of Applied Communication Research found that expanding definitions of family often don't embrace people without children. These individuals felt that work and family discussions isolated or belittled them, and that sometimes they were expected to fill in for absent workers because of more liberal attitudes toward parents.
Members of the National Communication Association who study gender and sexuality issues provide insight on the following:
•Do people who don't plan to have children have different definitions of family from those in traditional bonds?
•Do employers need to be particularly mindful of the rights of employees without children, especially LGBTQ employees?
•How do childless individuals deal with the growing integration of work and family at the workplace?
•How should employees take into account the rights of childless people while showing flexibility toward people with children?
- Jenny Dixon, Debbie S. Dougherty. A Language Convergence/Meaning Divergence Analysis Exploring How LGBTQ and Single Employees Manage Traditional Family Expectations in the Workplace.. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1080/00909882.2013.847275
Cite This Page: