Family Responsibilities Discrimination
Today, many employees who have caregiving responsibilities at home, whether for children, elderly parents, or family members with medical conditions, experience discrimination in the workplace. This is known as family responsibilities discrimination or caregiver discrimination. The law firm of Lenzo & Reis represents employees in New Jersey who have encountered family responsibilities discrimination.
What is family responsibilities discrimination?
There is no federal or New Jersey law that explicitly prohibits employers from discrimination against employees on the basis of their family responsibilities. However, family responsibilities discrimination often takes the form of gender stereotyping. For example, employers may believe that female employees with children are more likely to put their families ahead of their jobs. Conversely, the same employers may look askance at a male employee who seeks time off from work for family responsibilities, relying on the stereotype that men should put their jobs first and let their wives bear the brunt of caregiving duties.
Family responsibilities discrimination claims can also be framed as associational discrimination claims. New Jersey law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis that they are associated with someone with a particular legally protected characteristic. For example, if an employee has a child, spouse, or parent with a medical condition, an employer’s differential treatment of that employee based on the employee’s caregiving responsibilities could be characterized as discrimination against the employee based on the employee’s association with a person who has a disability. Discrimination against an employee who has young children or elderly parents who require special care could also be characterized as associational age discrimination.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the New Jersey Family Leave Act both provide employees who have worked for an employer with at least 50 employees for at least a year with the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill relative or newly born or newly adopted child. These statutes prohibit an employer from interfering with employees’ rights to take protected family leave. Courts have interpreted that to bar an employer from taking adverse employment actions (such as termination) against an employee because that employee requested or took family leave.
If you have been or are being subjected to family responsibilities discrimination, call our New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at 973-845-9922.