Phillips & Associates

Family Responsibility Discrimination


A majority of the time, Family Responsibility Discrimination, occurs when an employer discriminates against a female employee because of stereotypical views about a young mothers commitment to work after she has children. However to be clear, these stereotypes about caregiving and family leave can manifest as discrimination against both women and men. Family Responsibility Discrimination is also known as Caregiver Discrimination. If you face an adverse employment action because you provide care for a family member, contact the New York family responsibility discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates.

Studies have shown that many workers – have caregiving responsibilities at home. Yet many employers act upon outdated, discriminatory ideas of how caregiving can distract from an employee’s work.


Many workers must provide ongoing care to their family members. This can include parents taking care of children, adult children caring for elderly parents, and caring for physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled family members. This sort of caregiving is important and valued in our society, but many employers believe that employees with caregiving responsibilities won’t work as hard or be fully dedicated to the employer, or will be distracted and not serve as good employees. As a result, employers sometimes discriminate against employees because of their caregiving responsibilities. This can result in termination, failure to promote, unequal pay, failure to hire, harassment, and other more subtle forms of discrimination. According to the Center for Worklife Law, between 1971 and 2004 the number of family caregiving discrimination lawsuits went up 400%.


Federal law does not prohibit caregiver discrimination – also called family responsibilities discrimination – outright. However, existing federal laws do provide protections to caregiver employees. The Americans With Disabilities Act provides protections against discrimination for those associated with disabled persons. The Family Medical Leave Act provides for unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks per year to care for family members with serious health conditions. The Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based upon gender, such as discriminating against women based on stereotypes of women as primary caregivers for their children.

In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance to employers regarding family responsibility discrimination. The EEOC suggests that employers develop policies that discuss stereotypes regarding caregivers and give examples of discriminatory conduct. Significant other guidance and best practices are identified by the EEOC, including promoting flexible workplace schedules, recruiting employees with caregiving responsibilities, and providing reasonable leave for employees to give care to family members.

Local and state laws also provide some measure of protection. Several counties and states in the Tri-State area have adopted their own family caregiver protection laws, including Westchester County, the City of Newark, and the City of Passaic, amongst others. Both the State of New York and New York City have considered enacting caregiver protections in recent years.

If a supervisor denies to men the same caregiving flexibility it provides to women, or treats pregnant women differently from other employees with temporary medical disabilities, the employer may be violating existing legal protections for family caregivers. Comments such as “women with children aren’t as committed to the company as men” or that “I would never promote someone whose wife is bedridden” are strong evidence of improper discrimination against family caregivers.


Family responsibilities affect a high number of American workers. At Phillips & Associates, we are New York family responsibility discrimination attorneys with experience in all types of workplace discrimination claims. We understand how difficult it can be to make a legal claim against your employer, and we will guide you through all the steps of this process. For a free confidential consultation, contact our office at (212) 248-7431.

45 Broadway, #620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
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