Are California Employees Protected from Family Responsibilities Discrimination?

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First things first: what is family responsibilities discrimination (FRD)? FRD, also known as caregiver discrimination, occurs when employers discriminate against employees based on their family caregiving responsibilities. This can include discrimination against pregnant women, mothers and fathers of newborns and employees who take care of aging parents. Workers who experience FRD may miss out on job opportunities, be passed over for promotion, suffer harassment or even wrongful termination.

There is no overarching federal law prohibiting FRD. However, depending on the form of discrimination suffered, several laws have been used to challenge employment decisions in the past. Unfortunately, there are not as many laws protecting employees experiencing eldercare discrimination than other forms of FRD, like pregnancy discrimination.

What Are My Rights Against Eldercare Discrimination?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, employees that have worked for a government employer or a private employer with more than 50 employees for at least 12 months are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for parents with serious health conditions.

Under an amended version of the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees are protected from discrimination based on association with people who are disabled. However, employees are not required to give any special accommodations to these employees, making this protection fairly weak.

If you believe that you have been denied a job, fired, demoted, harassed or otherwise discriminated against based on your family responsibilities, your best course of action is to discuss your case with an employment law attorney. It is possible that your employer violated the law and, if so, you are entitled to damages for your troubles.