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Warn bosses: Don’t ask about caregivers’ responsibilities

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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 FMLA leave.

Recent case: When Corby Burus’ husband developed an de­­generative brain disorder, she told her supervisor. Later, Burus was cited for poor performance and 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)

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