Caregiver Discrimination

You have a child at home, or a disabled spouse. Or you have elderly parents who rely on you to maintain themselves. Your employer thinks this will affect your ability to do your job, and fires you. That is not permitted. In New York City, under the New York City Human Rights, you cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because you are a caregiver, or because your employer thinks you have responsibilities as a caregiver. This law went into effect as part of the New York City Human Rights Law, in May, 2016. 

  • Why was the law needed?
More than one in six workers in America provides care for a disabled family member or friend, and the elderly, disabled population is growing. In New York City, the majority of two-parent households have both parents in the workforce.

The problem in the workplace for caregivers is that some employers presume that caregivers won’t be able to handle the workload. Caregivers are not hired or denied promotions because of the stereotype that they will not be reliable, despite the fact that caregivers may have additional motivation to work hard because of their increased responsibilities. The employer is not entitled to make the assumption that you are “too busy” for new projects or new responsibilities, or that you will not work hard if you have responsibilities to care for family members. 

There may also be some gender stereotyping involved as well. The employer may assume that a woman’s care giving responsibility means that she can’t keep up, or that a man should not be bothering with giving care. 

  • What is a caregiver?
Someone who gives ongoing care for a minor child or “care recipient.” That seems pretty straight forward, except for “care recipient.”

What is a “care recipient?”

A care recipient (other than a minor child) has to have a disability and be in some sort of family-type relationship with you, such as a child, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild and anyone else in a “familial relationship,” and they qualify whether or not they live with you.  Also  non-family members can be “care recipients” if they reside in your household, regardless of familial relationship (you are caring for a disabled, elderly friend in your home, for example). 

  • Does the law give you the right to a flexible schedule for care giving?
No. Unlike a situation where you are dealing with your own personal disability, where you might be entitled to flexible scheduling or time off as a reasonable accommodation under disability discrimination law, you don’t get that right under the New York City Human Rights Law. 

However, many employers will provide flexible scheduling for non-care related situations, such as to accommodate a school schedule. It is well and good that an employer who values education should give a flexible schedule for school, but caregivers are now in a position to receive a similar schedule accommodation if it is given freely to employees for other reasons. The employer cannot say that it wants to value education for an accommodation, but not a family responsibility. 

In addition, if you are caring for a family member with a serious medical condition, and you meet the other requirements under the Family Medical Leave Act, then you might be entitled to 60 days off and/or of flextime per year. 

  • What about other similar Federal and State Discrimination Laws? 
The New York State discrimination law, as of January, 2016, provides protection for a worker’s “familial status,” but that new state law is limited to your caregiving relationship with your minor child. New York City Discrimination Law is much broader.

Federal Discrimination Law, Title VII, provides for family responsibility discrimination, but federal law is much less broad.

In our more than 25 years of experience, we have helped many employees subjected to discrimination, and we will be your lawyer for negotiations or a court suit in New York State Courts or New York City so that injustice is stopped.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 for a free initial consultation today to see whether your New York City employer is discriminating against you based on the fact that you are a caregiver. 

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