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Warn about associational discrimination against employees who are caregivers

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Here’s a topic to add to your management training curriculum. Make sure supervisors clearly understand that they cannot discriminate against employees who happen to associate with protected individuals such as children or other dependents with disabilities.

So-called associational discrimination is a fast-growing source of litigation. And employees who must care for family members make sympathetic plaintiffs for generous juries.

Recent case: When he was hired as a truck driver, Luis informed his boss that he had a disabled son who required daily dialysis, which he was responsible for administering. Luis requested work schedule accommodations that his supervisor initially granted, permitting him to attend to his son in the evenings.

Two years later, a new supervisor changed Luis’s work schedule. He complained to his boss about the schedule change, explaining that he would not be able to get home in the evening in time to take care of his son’s needs.

The supervisor spoke to his manager and then fired Luis, alleging that he “had quit by choosing not to take the assigned shift.”

Luis sued for discrimination. The court concluded that there was enough evidence that the supervisor may have intentionally manipulated the schedule to punish Luis for caring for a disabled person. It said the case could go to trial on Luis’s claim of associational discrimination. (Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc., No. B261165, Court of Appeal of California, 2016)

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