Employees can sue for discrimination based on being associated with a disabled individual. Employers must make sure they don’t use such associations as factors in job decisions. More employees are claiming that supervisors are discriminating against them because of fear that caring for a disabled individual will affect job performance.
The best approach: Tell bosses never to comment or ask about an employee’s disabled relative unless the employee brings it up and requests.
Recent case: When Corby Burus’ husband developed an degenerative brain disorder, she told her supervisor. Later, Burus was cited forand eventually fired.
She sued, claiming her supervisor asked about her husband and whether she could continue to do her job. She said that was discrimination based on association with a disabled person.
She lost because a different supervisor fired her. (Burus v. Wellpoint, No. 10-5470, 6th Cir., 2011)
- Beware setting up employees for possible embarrassment
- Try to accommodate chemically sensitive worker--but don't be surprised if it's impossible
- Analyze Severance Agreements for Plain-Language Readability
- Use peer-Review process to assess subjective qualities—And justify discipline
- 20 years is too late to file harassment suit