Caregivers Suffer AdverseCaregiver Discrimination
Many caregivers suffer adverse and often illegal actions at work: for instance, the salesperson who is not promoted because management believes she cannot take on increased responsibility due to her need to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s. Other examples of caregiver discrimination include the following types of actions when they are not motivated by a valid business reason:
- Firing an employee after finding out she is pregnant
- Firing an employee when he or she returns from paternity or maternity leave
- Firing an employee for performing his or her family responsibilities
- Firing an employee who is pregnant, who has an aging parent in poor health, or who has a sick spouse, to avoid health insurance costs and to avoid expected excessive absences from work
- Refusing to hire or promote a parent in favor of a less-qualified person who does not have children
- Refusing to offer a flexible schedule to allow a caregiver to provide child care or other assistance to a family member, though some employees are granted flexible schedules for other reasons
- Providing inaccurate information to an employee about the availability of leave and benefits
- Discouraging an employee from taking maternity, paternity, or family and medical leave
- Punishing an employee who provides care or takes leave—through performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, reassignment, or transfer
- Scheduling an employee for shifts that interfere with his or her caregiving responsibilities
- Criticizing an employee for being a caregiver, including comments based on stereotypes No single statute prohibits these acts or protects those who are subject to discrimination because they have caregiving responsibilities. But together, a number of laws do provide such protections to caregivers:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act disallows discrimination on the basis of any sex-based stereotype. It applies to both men and women. This means that an employer cannot deny leave to a man to care for his child because “that is something his wife should do.”
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bars discrimination against those who “associate with” disabled family members. “Associate with” includes serving as a caregiver.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects both women and men who need to take leave to care for a child or a family member.