- On January 1, New York will join Alaska, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia and add “familial status” as a protected state under the state’s fair employment law, according to hr.blr.com.
- Familial status laws prohibit discrimination against applicants or employees because they are parents, have legal custody of a child, or “contribute to the support of a person in a dependent relationship.” These protections are most often used in housing discrimination claims, but they’ve been making inroads in employment claims as well, hr.blr reports.
- EEOC guidance says that while caregiver status is not a separate protected category under Title VII or the ADA, “stereotyping and other kinds of disparate treatment” may violate the laws.
The article provides some examples of such protections in action. If an employer allows female employees to take time off for caregiving, but isn’t as willing to provide the same leave to male employees, an employer could get into trouble because it appears to be operating on the stereotype that women, not men, are supposed to provide care.
Additionally, employers who take “adverse action” against an employee who “is associated” with an individual who has a disability known to the employer (aka the employee cares for a disabled person) can get into trouble, as the ADA “expressly prohibits” this behavior. Be sure to remember specific obligations under FMLA as well.
“To avoid discrimination claims based on parenthood, familial status, or caregiving responsibilities related to protected categories, employers should make sure similarly situated employees are treated equally under the employer’s policies—e.g., same leave policies apply equally to male and female employees," hr.blr reports.