Discrimination Based on Caregiving Responsibilities

There is a new strain of workplace discrimination lawsuits related to family caregiving responsibilities.  These suits cut across sex, race and disability discrimination laws, and may include incidents of hiring, firing, pay, bonuses, promotions, time off and/or a hostile work environment. 

“Unlike other types of bias, discrimination due to family responsibilities does not fall neatly under any particular federal law.”  However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken an active interest in this issue.  The number of lawsuits has increased from four in 1979 to 329 in 2008.

Employers should examine their policies to ensure that they do not reflect any inherent biases.  They should also “revise their policies to expressly forbid family responsibilities discrimination.”  Companies should consider developing more flexible work schedules so employees can participate in family activities while remaining fully productive employees.

From Business Insurance, June 20 issue, p. 15.