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Need to Caror a Sick Relative? What You Need to Know About Your Rights on the Job


Need to Care for a Sick Relative? What You Need to Know About Your Rights on the Job

The Americans with Disabilities Act has some coverage for caretakers

You may care deeply about your job but for most people, family comes first.

When a loved one becomes ill or is diagnosed with a serious medical condition, making sure that person is properly cared for becomes the highest priority.

Unfortunately, some employers may attempt to make life difficult for people who have responsibilities to care for loved ones. However, it’s important to know that the law offers protection for many people in this scenario.

Let’s take a look a closer look at the how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) association provision protects people who may have caretaking responsibilities.

What the law says

According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency charged with enforcing federal discrimination laws, the association provision of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a person – whether or not he or she has a disability – because of his or her known relationship or association with a person with a known disability.

With the expansion of the ADA several years ago, many illnesses may now be considered to be disabilities. However, coverage under the ADA is considered on a case-by-case basis, so there is no set list of covered or non-covered conditions.

In terms of employees with caretaking responsibilities, the association provision bars employers from making adverse employment decisions based on someone’s relationship with a disabled individual. The disabled person does not have to be a family member in order to trigger protection.

One interesting aspect of the law is that it can be triggered based on the employer’s assumptions, even if those assumptions are unfounded.

For example, an employer may assume that an employee won’t be able to give her full attention to her job after her child is diagnosed with autism, so the woman is demoted.

Discrimination may take many forms

Discrimination may include:

  • failing to hire someone because of assumed responsibilities to care for a disabled person
  • denying promotions or opportunities for advancement
  • taking adverse actions, such as changing the worker’s schedule or work location to one that is less desirable, unfairly increasing the person’s workload, or subjecting the person to additional scrutiny
  • demoting, terminating or otherwise reprimanding someone because of his or her caretaking duties
  • denying healthcare coverage to the employee or the employee’s dependents
  • denying other benefits that the employee would otherwise be eligible for
  • subjecting the employee to harassment because of his or her association with a disabled person

Contact us for a consultation now

If you believe that you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against because of your caretaking responsibilities, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney who has experience handling ADA issues.

Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.

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