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It starts with the best of intentions. A company wants to be family-friendly, a workplace conducive to work-life balance. It allows some employees to work flexible schedules, but does so without first creating a flexible workplace policy or consulting in-house counsel. Decisions on flexibility are left to each manager, leading to differences among managers as to what is permitted and what is not. There is the appearance that female employees with young children are being given more latitude in terms of hours than their male counterparts and other women. An employee complains to human resources, and the threat of litigation looms over the company.

This company has fallen into one of several parent traps that arise when companies treat parents differently — sometimes more favorably, sometimes less favorably — than other employees.

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