EEOC offers best practices to prevent caregiver discrimination
In February, the EEOC held hearings on caregiver issues. Much of the discussion focused on pregnancy discrimination, an issue of greater importance now that the economic downturn has increased the percentage women in the workforce. Women currently make up 47% of the nation’s workforce.
Record numbers of working adults now care for elderly parents, a burden that falls disproportionately on women. Working women (20% of all working women) are more likely to be caregivers than working men (16%).
For federal fiscal year 2011, the EEOC resolved the second highest number of pregnancy discrimination cases (828) in its history, resulting in $17.2 million flowing from employers to employees who suffered discrimination.
HOW TO COMPLY: In 2007, the EEOC issued its Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities. Best practices fall into three groups: (1) general, (2) recruiting hiring and promotion and (3) employment terms, conditions and privileges.
General best practices
• Be aware of, and train managers about, the legal obligations that may affect treatment of workers with caregiving responsibilities.
• Develop and enforce a strong EEO policy and train managers to be aware of caregivers and their responsibilities. Employers should interpret “family” broadly.
• Managers should avoid stereotypes such as assuming female workers are less capable or available because of their caregiving responsibilities.
• Management training should include specific examples of illegal behavior.
• Managers should also be aware of actions that may constitute retaliation. Name an office or person to whom employees may report discrimination complaints.
• Ensure that managers at all levels are aware of, and comply with, the organization’s work-life policies. Provide incentives for managers to ensure that their employees are aware of work-life balance programs.
• Include willingness to assist employees who have caregiving responsibilities when evaluating supervisors’ performance.
• Respond to all complaints of caregiver discrimination