The Noble Law helps clients in both North Carolina and New York City navigate issues of workplace discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. You have the right to be treated fairly at work, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy. If you have been discriminated against because you are pregnant or because of conditions related to pregnancy, our employment law firm can help. Contact The Noble Law in North Carolina or New York City to schedule a consultation with an employment law attorney.
Most workers understand that discrimination based on traits like sex or age is illegal. Fewer people realize that unfair treatment based on one’s role as a caregiver is also impermissible. While caregiver discrimination is real and illegal, it is not spelled out as clearly in the law as other types of prohibited discrimination, so it is important to discuss your situation with an employment discrimination lawyer.
You may have a lot of questions about whether your workplace treatment was justified or crosses the line into prohibited discrimination. At The Noble Law, we listen. We hear you. We understand.
What is caregiver discrimination?
Caregiver discrimination is also known as “family responsibility discrimination.” It is a type of workplace discrimination based on an employee’s responsibility for taking care of family members.
The first instances of caregiver discrimination that usually come to mind are firing, failing to promote, or refusing to hire a mother out of fear that her attendance or job performance would be affected by caregiving duties. However, men can also be targeted, and it is still discriminatory if the family needing the employee’s care is a spouse, a sick parent, or another family member. Some examples include:
- Refusing a worker a flexible schedule for caregiving if other workers were allowed a flexible schedule for non-caregiver activities
- Denying a father’s request for paternity leave if mothers’ requests for maternity leave are generally granted
- Skipping over a caregiver for promotion based on unsupported concerns that they will not be as hard-working
In some cases, an employer may have a valid argument that a worker’s request cannot be granted because it would interfere with a “bona fide occupational qualification” – that it would interfere with the worker’s essential job duties that are necessary for the business’s operation. An employment discrimination lawyer can help you determine whether there is any merit to this type of argument or whether it is simply a pretext for discriminatory actions.
Legal basis for caregiver discrimination lawsuits
Caregiver responsibility discrimination is not specifically addressed in federal statutes, but it arguably falls under an umbrella created by other federal protections. At the state level, protections vary more drastically; some states specifically protect caregivers while other states rely on less specific laws to protect caregivers.
The Civil Rights Act does not specifically protect caregivers, but it protects employees from discrimination based on sex and on their association with an individual who has a disability. For example, a woman cannot be treated differently than a man in a similar circumstance, and a man cannot be denied accommodations that a woman would receive based on the stereotype that a woman should be the caregiver. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects both women and men who need a leave from employment to care for a family member. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents discrimination against the caregivers of disabled family members.
Some states have introduced specific laws to address caregiver discrimination, while other states rely on the interpretation of broader laws to infer some protections for caregivers.
In 2015, New York City amended the New York City Human Rights Law to specifically ban discrimination against caregivers, defined as “a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient.” Under the rule change, employers cannot deny employment or treat an employee negatively based on the employee or applicant’s role as a caregiver or the employer’s belief that they are a caregiver.
If you experience adverse treatment and believe it is because of your care duties, a New York employment discrimination lawyer can help you determine your rights under this and other applicable laws.
North Carolina is an example of a state where the caregiver protections have traditionally been less straightforward. Advocates in the state relied on laws like the FMLA to protect caregivers. However, the state’s General Assembly has been making strides to amend the FMLA to explicitly include caregivers as a protected class. To find out whether the adverse treatment that you have experienced due to caregiver duties falls under these protections, speak with a North Carolina employment discrimination lawyer.
Are Caregivers a Protected Class?
Under federal law and many state laws, caregivers are not specifically defined as a protected class. Some jurisdictions, like New York City, have enacted local laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on caregiver status. However, even where caregivers are not designated as a protected class, a network of other anti-discrimination laws often provides some protection to workers.
If you have been treated less favorably than non-caregivers in the workplace, you may have experienced unlawful discrimination. There is often a lot of nuance to workplace discrimination cases, and an experienced employment lawyer can help to make sure your rights are protected. At The Noble Law, a caregiver discrimination lawyer is here to listen to you and help you decide what path to take.
What Is Caregiver Discrimination?
Caregiver discrimination occurs whenever an employer treats someone less favorably based on his or her caregiving duties. Under federal law and most state laws, caregiver protection is not explicitly defined but is instead covered by an umbrella of other anti-discrimination laws and regulations. In some locations, however, caregivers are given special protection under the law.
The network of laws providing workplace protections against discrimination is complex and often a bit confusing. If a mistreated employee does not follow the right procedures and meet the proper deadlines, their complaint can be barred. If you have been the victim of discrimination, choosing the right caregiver discrimination lawyer is the best way to build the strongest possible case and make sure your claim meets all requirements and deadlines.
Speak with a caregiver discrimination attorney
If you believe you are not treated like other workers because of your responsibilities as a caregiver in New York City or North Carolina, talk with an employment attorney about how you can stand up for your rights. Since the laws protecting workers in these situations are not straightforward, it is important to work with someone who has in-depth experience in employee advocacy.
The employment lawyers at The Noble Law have extensive experience in workplace discrimination. We listen. We hear you. We understand. We have offices conveniently situated in New York City, Charlotte, and Research Triangle Park to serve clients in NYC and around North Carolina. Call today to discuss your claim for free.
The Noble Law – Employment Attorneys
You have the right to a safe workplace free of discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. If you are being discriminated against or harassed in your workplace, an employment attorney at The Noble Law may be able to help. We provide clients with legal counsel and representation in North Carolina and New York City. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced employment law attorneys.