How are caregivers protected from discrimination in California?

When employers fail to take job applicants’ or employees’ caregiving obligations into account, they may be guilty of family responsibilities discrimination (FRD).

In California, companies cannot consider an employee’s real or perceived caregiving role to deny raises, promotions, reduce their pay or take other adverse actions, such as harassment and discrimination.

Caregivers face discrimination in many forms

FRD affects men and women of all ages and income levels, and it exists in every industry. Examples of this type of discrimination include:

  • Firing women because they are pregnant or plan to take maternity leave
  • Not promoting pregnant employees or women with small children
  • Giving promotions to women without children, or men instead of more qualified women with children
  • Refusing to give parents flexible work schedules to meet childcare needs while giving nonparents flexible schedules
  • Inventing work infractions or performance deficiencies to justify firing caregivers
  • Taking negative actions against workers legally able to take time off to care for aging parents
  • Advancing single men over engaged or married women fearing they will become pregnant

Some discrimination is unintended, but employers receive guidance from the EEOC on how to avoid these types of claims.

FRD is widespread

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) reports 70% of all U.S. households with children have both parents in the workforce. Those potentially affected by FRD include:

  • Women who make up 46% of the labor force, and 81% of them have children
  • 25% of all families taking care of aging parents
  • 10% of all workers caring for both young children and aging relatives

Taking action over caregiver discrimination

While no federal or state laws specifically address FRD, protections exist under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), ERISA and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An experienced family responsibilities discrimination lawyer can help you if your situation falls into several categories, such as marital status, pregnancy, sexual stereotyping, harassment, or leave provisions under the FMLA or California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

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