Family responsibilities and caregiver discrimination occur when an employer treats an employee differently because they care for a child, spouse, elderly parent, or family member. Although New Jersey anti-discrimination law does not expressly prohibit discrimination against caregivers, several federal and state laws protect caregivers under certain circumstances. The best way to protect your rights is to consult with an experienced caregiver discrimination attorney.
At NJ Employment Lawyers, we believe that individuals who need to care for family members have a right to work without fear of discrimination. If you have been denied necessary leave, demoted, harassed, or otherwise retaliated against based on your family responsibilities, we will provide you with compassionate representation when you need it most. Trust our team of dedicated caregiver advocates to help you stand up for your right to care for your family. Contact our office today so we can start working on your discrimination claim.
What Is a Caregiver & Family Responsibilities Discrimination?
A caregiver is a person who cares for a newborn, minor, or adult child, spouse, parent, or relative who needs physical and medical assistance. This may involve taking them to and from doctor’s appointments, getting them medications, ensuring they are fed, running basic errands, as well as carrying out the typical duties of parenting a child. While caregivers have traditionally been women, a caregiver can be of any gender.
When Does Something Qualify as Caregiver Discrimination?
Caregiver discrimination occurs when your employer, supervisor, or coworker treats you unfairly or harasses you because you are caring for a family member. Although caregiver discrimination comes an be overt or subtle, common examples include:
- Firing or demoting an employee who becomes pregnant or plans to take maternity leave
- Denying promotions to pregnant women or qualified mothers with young children in favor of employees without children or who are less qualified
- Penalizing employees who take time off to care for elderly parents
- Refusing to allow an employee time off to care for a sick spouse
- Giving poor performance reviews to justify terminating workers with caregiving responsibilities
- Making offensive comments about a male employee who takes leave to care for a newborn
Whether you were denied medical leave, terminated, or discriminated against in any other way because of your family responsibilities, our caregiver discrimination attorney will have your back and fight to protect your rights.
What Laws Protect Employees in New Jersey From Caregiver Discrimination?
Several federal and state laws may protect employees from family responsibilities discrimination in the workplace, including:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on gender regarding any terms or conditions of employment. The law protects women or men from unequal treatment, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII may apply when an employer gives a female employee time off to care for a sick child but denies a male employee’s request for time off for the same reason.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who care for a disabled family member. Discriminating against these caregivers may involve:
- Not offering certain assignments
- Denying promotions
Any form of unfair treatment or harassment in retaliation for a caregiver exercising their legal rights is prohibited under the ADA.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA requires an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius to allow qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for:
- A newborn or adopted child.
- Child, spouse, or parent with an illness or injury.
A qualified employee must have worked for the company for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours. An employer who denies a qualified employee leave or demotes or terminates an employee who takes family leave can be held liable for caregiver discrimination under the FMLA.
The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA)
Under the NJFLA, employees with at least 50 employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period to allow employees to take family leave to care for:
- A newborn, adopted, or foster child, as long as the leave begins within 1 year of the date the child is born or placed with the employee.
- A family member with a serious health condition or in need of continuing medical treatment or medical supervision.
Notably, family members include a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, any individual related by blood to the employee, or any other relationship that is the equivalent of a family relationship. If you have been denied leave under the NJFLA to care for a family member, you may have a valid caregiver discrimination claim.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Caregiver Discrimination Attorney
Because federal and state laws do not expressly prohibit discrimination against employees with family responsibilities, caregiver discrimination claims are more challenging to prove than other employment discrimination cases. Our attorneys are well known for fighting for employees who have suffered family responsibility and caregiver discrimination and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. Contact us today to learn how we can help.