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California caregivers challenge workplace discrimination

At some point in nearly everyone's life, he or she will have to care for someone else. Whether it is a child, an elderly parent or a sick spouse, caring for others is a part of life. Unfortunately, the number of cases in California involving workplace discrimination against caregivers suggests that some employers may not recognize the importance of being there when someone needs you.

A recent report notes that over the past decade, workers have been paid over $500 million in verdicts and settlements after winning family responsibility discrimination cases. Many of these decisions are returned by juries-- everyday people who understand what it means to be responsible for the well-being of another. In 2014, over 43 million adults looked after a parent or a child with special needs. Instead of receiving support and understanding on the job, employees who also must care for someone at home may face discrimination at work.

A person is a victim of caregiver discrimination when he or she is treated with hostility on the job because of his or her family responsibilities, even if one's job performance does not suffer. The victim may be denied important information or privileges other employees receive. He or she may be overlooked for promotions or raises, or punished or fired for infractions for which other employees are excused.

Employers may not even realize they have a bias against family caregivers. Managers may unconsciously see caregivers as distracted or lacking dedication to the job. However some employers in California may learn the hard way that workplace discrimination reflects negatively on their company, and it may end up costing them money if the employee decides to take legal action.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Caregivers are winning workplace discrimination cases", Rex Huppke, May 20, 2016

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