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How to Manage Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

Author: Marci E. Britt, Fisher Phillips

Family Responsibility Discrimination (FRD), also referred to as caregiver discrimination claims, is a hot topic these days. Although being a caregiver is not a protected class under federal law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recognized that stereotypes based on gender may give rise to discrimination claims based on sex under Title VII.

An example of prohibited conduct based on gender would be allowing a female employee, but not a male employee, to leave early three times a week to care for minor children.

Title VII, however, is not the only basis for an employee to assert a claim of discrimination based on caregiving responsibilities. If an employer stereotypes its employees who are caregivers, it may also constitute discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It is important to remember that the ADA also prohibits discrimination against an employee who is associated with an individual with a disability such as a child, spouse or parent.

For example, an employer may not reject a job applicant because the employer presumes that the applicant's caregiving responsibilities for a child with a disability would prohibit him or her from performing the job.

Under this example, the applicant may be able to successfully argue that the prospective employer violated the ADA because its failure to hire the employee was because of the applicant's association with an individual with a disability.