3/28/22

EEOC Provides Updated Caregiver Discrimination Guidance

Related Practices

Attorneys & Professionals

Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided updated and additional guidance regarding caregiver discrimination under federal employment laws in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.  In its new guidance, the EEOC explained the circumstances under which caregiver discrimination might occur under federal law.

Although the EEOC recognized that Federal employment discrimination laws do not prohibit employment discrimination based solely on an employee’s or potential employee’s status as a caregiver, the agency made clear that such discrimination is illegal when based on a protected characteristic.  The guidance then provided a number of illustrations of types of decisions that would be unlawful discrimination under federal employment law, including:

This guidance – which includes additional examples and illustrations – provides a helpful clarification of the scope of Federal employment discrimination laws.  However, it is worth noting that the EEOC’s guidance is not in itself legally binding, although the guidance may be given some weight by a court reviewing a claim involving allegations of unlawful treatment by a caregiver.  Thus, when faced with litigation, courts could determine that the protections for caregivers under federal law are broader, or narrower, than those described in the agency’s latest guidance.  Nonetheless, the guidance – and the agency’s Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities – provide helpful direction to ensure that employers’ policies and practices are designed to eliminate unnecessary risks of liability under Federal law.

Ultimately, whether particular conduct exposes an employer to liability under federal law requires an individualized analysis of the facts and circumstances of the particular case.  Contact your Vorys lawyer to discuss the impact of the EEOC’s latest guidance, for counseling regarding updating your policies and practices to ensure compliance with Federal employment discrimination laws, or for assistance in applying your policies to situations that may arise.

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