Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Boston Globe ran a very interesting and important article entitled A Parental Juggling Job on December 14, 2008. It is about how difficult it is for parents to work full time and take care of special needs children at the same time. The article points out that many parents careers suffer because they need to take time off, sometimes at unpredicatable times. The article describes the legal protection parents have as follows:
Legally, parents caring for children with disabilities have some protection against discrimination. Amid rising claims by working caregivers in general, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines last year to detail how laws banning discrimination based on sex or race protect such workers. For instance, a new mother who is placed into less desirable work because her boss assumes she is less serious about her career post-birth is protected against sex-based stereotyping under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As well, the Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws discrimination against caregivers to the disabled, although it doesn't require that employers accommodate them by changing schedules or job duties, as is mandated for workers with disabilities.
If any one is aware of any case law on this issue, please let me know. Frankly, I think these cases are under reported and under litigated because no one cares. I also believe that aside from the FMLA, which provides extremely limited protection (12 weeks of unpaid leave), parents of special need children have very little protection under the law. I am actually not sure that the article is correct in implying that placing a mother in a less desirable job because the mother has a disabled child is unlawful. Unfortunately, I believe it is lawful. What is unlawful is if the employer makes sterotypical assumtions because of an employees sex.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein