Work/Life Squeeze: Title VII Family Responsibility Discrimination

DMEC Staff@Work

Title VII Family Responsibility Discrimination

Family Responsibility DiscriminationBy Marti Cardi, JD

VP Product Compliance
Matrix Absence Management

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides employment protections against discrimination on such bases as race, religion, national origin, and sex (and pregnancy). But most employers don’t realize Title VII also protects workers who are caregivers against “family responsibility discrimination” (FRD). Caregiver discrimination isn’t limited to female employees caring for children. It also extends to men and other protected classes, and to an employee caretaker of another family member, such as a disabled spouse, sibling, or elderly parent.

It’s Complicated

Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against caregivers per se. Rather, employers can be liable when making adverse employment decisions on the basis of a protected classification plus caregiver responsibilities. The discriminatory act may begin by assuming a caregiver stereotype, such as:

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