EEOC offers best practices to prevent caregiver discrimination

Share this Article



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

Comments are closed