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Alert bosses to little-known caregiver bias liability

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Your supervisors probably know it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of his or her disability. But do they also know about a less-obvious part of the ADA that makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applications because those people have an association with someone who has a disability?

So-called caregiver discrimination and family responsibility discrimination are terms that describe the growing number of suits that charge employers with discriminating against employees based on assumptions about their family responsibilities.

The EEOC has identified family responsibility discrimination as one of the top issues it’s focusing on.

Discrimination arises when an em­ployer bases employment decisions not on an employee’s actual performance, but rather on stereotypes of how the individual will or should act due to his or her caregiving role.

No federal law specifically addresses discrimination against caregivers.

However, treating employees with caregiving responsibilities differently than other employees may violate various employment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the FMLA, as well as the ADA.

The ADA’s association provision covers hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment.

Employees will be more sensitive to association bias now that the EEOC has published a Q&A fact sheet that explains this ADA provision.

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