Human Resources News & Insights

12 do’s and don’ts to avoid ‘caregiver’ lawsuits

Noting that there’s been an increase in lawsuits and complaints about bias against family caregivers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a list of typical offenses — usually committed by frontline managers — that have led to charges against employers.

EEOC says if you want to avoid problems, tell your managers to be careful about:

  • assuming that female workers’ caretaking responsibilities will interfere with their ability to succeed in a fast-paced environment
  • assuming that female workers who work part-time or take advantage of flexible work arrangements are less committed to their jobs than full-time employees
  • assuming that male workers do not, or should not, have significant caregiving responsibilities
  • assuming that female workers prefer, or should prefer, to spend time with their families rather than time at work
  • assuming that female workers who are caregivers are less capable than other workers
  • assuming that pregnant workers are less reliable than other workers
  • asking female applicants and employees, but not male applicants and employees, about their child care responsibilities
  • making stereotypical comments about pregnant workers or female caregivers
  • treating female workers without caregiving responsibilities more favorably than female caregivers
  • steering women with caregiving responsibilities to less prestigious or lower-paid positions
  • treating male workers with caregiving responsibilities more, or less, favorably than female workers with caregiving responsibilities
  • denying male workers’ requests for leave related to caregiving responsibilities while routinely approving female workers’ requests

The instances and examples listed have shown up often in lawsuits and complaints against employers for violating the rights of family caregivers.

Those instances and other advice about how to prevent caregiver discrimination are in the EEOC document “Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities.”

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