Many workers in Texas are familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act as the federal law that allows parents to take an unpaid leave from work following the birth or adoption of a child. Some people may also be aware that this same leave should be provided to covered workers should they need to take a leave due to an illness, or to care for a spouse, parent or child who has an illness.
However, every worker in San Antonio is not under the FMLA umbrella. It only applies to employers with 50 or more workers, and those employers only have to offer the job-protected leave to workers who have been with the company for one year or more, having put in a certain number of hours. But, even among those who should be protected under this law, a certain class of people is apparently facing very serious discrimination for trying to exercise this workplace right and others. These are workers who care for their aging parents.
According to a recent report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, caregivers of older adults are dealing with workplace discrimination. The discrimination doesn’t only take place when they are wrongly denied leave to care for an ill or dying parent, but also when they are stereotyped by employers, supervisors and co-workers as being less competent or committed than their counterparts who are not caregivers.
Some workers’ rights advocates say the rate at which this is happening is so severe that “family caregivers” needs to be added into employment laws as a protected class–just like race, gender, nationality, pregnancy and the numerous other protected classes.
Furthermore, many think that in addition to freedom from discrimination, caregivers of adults need additional support. This includes expanding the FMLA to small businesses, and allowing workers to take sick leave to care for an ill parent, spouse or child, as well as to take a family member to a medical appointment.
As demographics shift, there are many older adults who need the care of their working children. Workers in Texas certainly should not face negative repercussions at work because they are caring for an aging parent. But, what do you think? Would San Antonio’s workforce benefit from family caregiver anti-discrimination laws?
Source: Forbes, “Sex Discrimination, Age Discrimination, Family Responsibilities Discrimination,” Ashlea Ebeling, Sept. 10, 2012
- Our firm helps protect the rights of those who have been discriminated against at work. To learn more about this topic, take a look at our San Antonio Discrimination page.