Workplace discrimination takes many forms. In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently provided guidance on how the law applies to caregivers who face discrimination in the workplace.
Federally protected characteristics
The EEOC is the governmental body that is charged with investigating allegations of workplace discrimination.
The EEOC recently issued guidance reminding employers that discrimination against caregivers is illegal when based on federally protected characteristics. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, race, sex, age, religion, and disability. Illegal discrimination may include deciding not to hire someone, withholding job-related privileges and/or benefits, modifying job duties, or firing someone, if the decision to do so is primarily because of a protected characteristic.
How caregivers might face discrimination
Caregivers might face discrimination when, for example, an employer hiring for a remote position avoids hiring a woman that has children because the employer assumes she will prioritize taking care of her minor children over fulfilling her work duties while working from home. In such circumstances, the employer’s decision not to hire could violate anti-discrimination laws.
Similarly, an employer may violate anti-discrimination laws if they decide not to hire an applicant because the applicant is the primary caregiver of someone with a disability.
Not all employment discrimination is done with malicious intent, or even intentionally. However, any discrimination based on stereotypes can constitute a violation of federal law, and can give you as an employee a cause of action for an employment discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
Caregivers may also have additional rights under other federal laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, or local laws. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your caregiving responsibilities, contact Gilbert Employment Law here.