The U.S. population is aging and someone must provide care for this generation as they reach the age where they cannot care for themselves. Statistics from 2014 show that 43.5 million adults were unpaid caregivers for an adult or a child with special needs. Of these caregivers, 60% were employed, giving rise to an increase in discrimination against caregivers, also known as Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD). FRD can be broadly defined as any bias against workers with family caregiving responsibilities that results in an adverse employment action without regard to the workers’ actual performance.
A caregiver may need time off or a flexible schedule to accommodate their responsibilities to a family member for whom they are caring. While there are no specific laws regarding the right to have these needs accommodated by the employer, there are several different laws that taken together protect caregivers from discrimination. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) are all existing laws that can be used to protect workers who are victims of FRD in the workplace. New Jersey is one of only a few states to provide legal protection for caregivers above the minimum required by federal law.
For example, a woman who does not receive a promotion because she has small children to care for, and is passed over in favor of a less qualified male colleague with no children, can file a claim of both gender discrimination and FRD. Similarly, a company that provides maternity leave for employees who give birth, but fails to allow paternity leave for a man to help care for a newborn baby may be accused of discriminating against the man based on both his gender and his family responsibilities.
FRD Lawsuits Are on the Rise
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), when a worker requests leave or schedule accommodations for caregiving needs, it is often seen as a lack of commitment to the job and thus affects them negatively. Recent years have seen a pushback from American workers and a demand for better protections in the workplace. Overall, the number of FRD lawsuits has risen 269% over the last 10 years. These cases have a success rate of 67% when they go to trial, and overall 52% of all employees who file FRD charges win their cases.
A report from the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hasting’s College of the Law concludes that because the number of caregivers in the workplace can only increase, the rate of FRD will also increase unless employers implement a plan to stop it. At the very least, settling FRD lawsuits costs an employer time, money, and resources and can also damage a company’s reputation and employee morale. Adjusting to the needs of the current and future workforce can only improve worker retention and productivity. All employees can benefit from increasing inclusion and engagement.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Fight for Victims of Discrimination
Your family responsibilities as a caregiver should not negatively affect your relationship with your employer. If it has, you may be experiencing discrimination and be eligible for compensation. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., our experienced Cherry Hill employment lawyers partner with every client to implement customized legal solutions and deliver the best outcome possible. Do not delay in seeking justice. Call us at 856-985-9800 or contact us online. Our offices are in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout the state.