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What is caregiver discrimination?

Many people have never heard of caregiver discrimination -- even if they've dealt with it in person.

Caregiver, or "family responsibility," discrimination occurs whenever an assumption is made (either correctly or incorrectly) that an employee's responsibilities at home take precedence over his or her work and he or she is negatively treated as a result.

Can this type of discrimination be based on sexuality or gender?

Quite often, yes. It isn't uncommon for this type of discrimination to be aimed at women because women are often automatically perceived as caregivers for their families.

Unfortunately, that can set a female employee up for comments that are purposefully lewd or sexual in nature -- especially if she marries and "disappoints" her boss by doing so. For example, there may be inappropriate comments made about the female employee's sex life with her new husband or wife.

However, men can also fall victim to lewd or sexual comments -- especially if the man in question works in a particularly "macho" position where being overly involved with your children or sensitive to the needs of your elderly mother is seen as unmanly or feminine.

For example, it might be acceptable for a female employee to live with her elderly mother and take leave to take her mother to a doctor -- while a male employee could be mocked for being a "Mama's boy" and asked if there isn't someone else who could handle the task when he puts in his leave slip.

What types of things indicate caregiver discrimination?

Caregiver discrimination can take many forms:

For example, a female employee might be told directly that having three kids makes her unlikely to get a promotion because of the travel time involved in the job -- while a male employee with three kids is still considered for the spot because it's assumed his wife will handle the kids.

A married man with young kids might rush home at night so that he can spend time with his children before they have to go to bed. He doesn't stay to work the (unpaid) overtime some of co-workers do. When it comes time for promotion, he's told he's not "dedicated" enough and someone with fewer qualifications (and no kids) gets the spot.

If you suspect you're the victim of caregiver discrimination with or without a sexual component to it, talk to an attorney today.

Source: www.eeoc.gov, "Enforcement Guidance: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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