A grandfather worked for Tractor Supply, "the largest retail and ranch store in the U.S.," was ordered to work mandatory overtime. He refused: he had to get home to care for his grandchild so his son, who had custody, could get to work. Father and son worked different shifts so each could care for the child while the other was at work.
The Tractor Supply supervisor asked grandpa why he needed to leave, telling him that accommodations could be made for reasonable excuses. Grandpa replied that his reasons were no one's business but his own. The supervisor ordered him to stay. The worker left anyway and was fired for insubordination.
I suspect men get fired all the time because of child care responsibilities. Another example: an operating engineer was ordered to work overtime because of an impending snowstorm. Again company policy made allowances for workers with a reasonable excuse. Again, this worker did not speak up. He simply left when he had to pick up his first-grader from school, and was suspended from his job.
These men were lucky. Because they were represented by unions, they ultimately were reinstated. Most Americans in this situation just get fired. Why risk discipline or discharge rather than provide an excuse? Recent studies of working class men suggest an explanation. A generation ago, working class families-like more affluent ones-could afford to keep mothers at home full or part-time. No longer. The real wages of high-school-educated men have fallen 25% since 1973. Social norms have not kept up. Most Americans still expect fathers to be providers, according to Nick Townsend's 2002 The Package Deal, and many other studies.