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Family Status and Caregiver Discrimination

Family Status discrimination occurs when an employee is unfairly penalized at work because of his or her role as a caregiver and obligations to provide care for family members.

Such unfair treatment affects a range of working people, including mothers and fathers, pregnant women, parents of disabled children, adult children caring for aging parents, and workers who care for sick or disabled relatives.

  • Stereotyping of mothers—characterizing them as less competent and committed or less deserving of advancement—is all too common. A study found that mothers were 79% less likely to be recommended for hire, 100% less likely to be promoted, and offered an average of $11,000 less in salary for the same position as similarly qualified non-mothers.
  • Men can also face discrimination when they want to be active caregivers. Studies show that fathers who take parental leave are recommended for fewer rewards and considered less committed than women who do.
  • Caring for ailing and aging relatives also carries a stigma in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recognized that sex-based stereotyping about caregiving affects workers caring for sick parents and spouses as well as those caring for children.

Civil rights laws on the books provide some protection for parents and other caregivers from unfair treatment at work but these laws could be greatly improved by specifically outlawing discrimination based on someone’s status as a family caregiver. For more information about such legislation around the country, click here.

For more information about such legislation around the country, click here. 

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