You have heard of “work spouse.” It is someone your significant other has coupled with in the workplace with similarities to their at home spousal relationship. A different phenomenon is happening which is “work mom” or “work dad.” Today, the mandatory retirement age is almost non-existent; just ask 106 year old Virginia McLaurin. So, it is commonplace to have multiple generations simultaneously in the workplace.
To determine if your parents are caught up in a parenting relationship with younger co-workers, you have to take an inventory of the relationship. Dads may fall victim to playing the role of parent with younger colleagues but, moms may be more susceptible. It starts innocently where “mom” regularly bakes cookies and the like for work, her home is filled with fundraiser-type goods from supporting co-workers children’s youth organizations, responds to invitations to all sorts for events requiring big ticket purchases or giving expensive gifts, and spends hours writing college research papers/assignments for Millennials. When mom’s youthful co-workers began invading her privacy at home demanding favors like crashing overnight, use of vehicle, and/or demand for cash gifts or loans, well enough is enough!
In 1986 EEOC removed limits for mandatory retirement age. Congress approved eliminating the upper age cap of 70 with few exceptions from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Congress first passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protecting individuals who are between 40 and 65 years of age from discrimination in employment. The Department of Labor has enforcement responsibility.
Most aging adults continue to work because they have a financial need to do so. Being regarded by younger workers as a source of favors puts older workers who can’t afford it in a precarious work relationship dynamic. Like race, religion, and any other protected classes; employees must not be harassed or treated unfairly at work because of their age.
Family members, there are 3 important questions to ask your working older parent to find out whether or not she is being treated as a “work mom”:
1. How much of your income is being spent for non-business, work-related activities? If the percentage amount is in double digits, there’s a problem.
2. How often do you engage with much younger co-workers at home and outside of work? If more than occasional, there may be a problem.
3. Do you feel pressured or have been threaten to meet the non-work related demands of much younger colleagues? If yes, file a report with authorities either at work Human Resources or in the community with the Police.
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“Work spouse” is a phrase, mostly in American English, referring to a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage. A “work spouse” is also referred to as “workplace spouse”, “work wife”, or “office husband”.
Work spouse – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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