More Caregivers Sue Employers Over Discrimination Claims
The number of lawsuits stemming from "family responsibilities discrimination," or discrimination against employees who have family care-giving responsibilities at home, has increased by 400% in the last 10 years, according to the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, USA Today reports.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has reported an "upsurge" in cases, many of which result in awards to plaintiffs, and recently has issued its first guidance for employers about the issue.
According to USA Today, the lawsuits -- which usually involve workers who care for a child, elderly parent or spouse with a disability -- "generally fall under three areas":
- Employees claiming an employer denied leave or retaliated against a worker for taking time off to care for a child, which is covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act;
- Employees who allege employers violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by denying workers accommodations to care for a relative with a disability; and
- Employees who allege gender discrimination, such as women with young children who claim they are not given the same treatment as new fathers.
Donna Wagner, director of gerontology and director of the Center for Productive Agingat Towson University in Maryland, said, "Most caregivers have been very reticent about even bringing the topic up in the workplace" because they are "concerned they won't be seen as a good worker."
Marion Somers, a geriatric care manager, consultant and lecturer, said more employees "are just now starting to speak up" as they become aware of their legal rights to take time off work to care for aging or disabled relatives or children, noting that some "people are still extremely hesitant. They fear losing their job or not getting a promotion" (Armour, USA Today, 10/25). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.