The EEOC has published its new Employer Best Practices For Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities. Here are the highlights.
- The document provides “suggestions for best practices that employers may adopt to reduce the chance of EEO violations against caregivers, and to remove barriers against equal employment opportunity.”
- “Caregiver” is defined generally as those who care for spouses, children, parents, elderly family members and relatives with disabilities.
- Employers with flexible workplace policies that promote healthy work/life balance “may not only experience decreased complaints of unlawful discrimination, but may also benefit their workers, their customer base, and their bottom line.”
The EEOC offers a variety of excellent suggestions, many of which are generally applicable to all forms of discrimination and should already be in place. Here are some of the specific recommendations:
- train managers about legal obligations related to caregiver responsibilities, particularly the ADA, FMLA and Pregnancy Discrimination Act;
- develop and enforce EEO policies to prevent caregiver discrimination;
- provide a contact person for questions and complaints;
- focus on job-related non-discriminatory business reasons for all employment decisions;
- develop specific, job-related qualification standards for each position that accurately reflect the duties, functions and competencies of the job;
- monitor and adjust performance and compensation decisions to ensure consistency and fairness;
- remove potential barriers to an employee’s return to work following leave;
- respond to all complaints of discrimination efficiently and effectively; and
- avoid any form of retaliation.
The EEOC urges employers to avoid stereotypes regarding caregivers, including assumptions that:
- female employees prefer to spend time with their families rather than at work;
- employees who take advantage of flexible or part-time work arrangements are less committed than other employees;
- employees’ caregiving duties will interfere with their ability to succeed in fast-paced work environments; and
- male employees don’t (or shouldn’t) have significant caregiver responsibilities.
The EEOC provides several examples of prohibited conduct, including:
- asking female (but not male) applicants or employees about caregiver responsibilities;
- making stereotypical comments about caregivers or pregnant employees;
- steering caregivers to lower-paid or less prestigious positions;
- providing accommodations for temporary medical conditions but not for pregnancy; and
- treating employees without caregiver responsibilities more favorably than those with caregiver responsibilities.
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