Caregivers’ Rights and Responsibilities

Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD), also called caregiver discrimination, is employment discrimination against workers based on their family caregiving responsibilities. Pregnant women, mothers and fathers of young children, and employees with aging parents or sick spouses or partners may encounter family responsibilities discrimination. They may be rejected for hire, passed over for promotion, demoted, harassed, or terminated — despite good performance — simply because their employers make personnel decisions based on stereotypical notions of how they will or should act given their family responsibilities.

WorkLife Law’s FRD Fact Sheet provides an overview of the types of situations that commonly lead to family responsibilities discrimination claims.

Family Responsibilities Discrimination Affects Men and Women

While most family responsibilities discrimination plaintiffs are women, men are increasingly facing family responsibilities discrimination in the workplace as they care for their families. You can read about men and FRD here.

Family responsibilities discrimination affects men and women across the income spectrum and employers in every industry. Cases have included those in low-wage jobs (grocery clerks, nurses’ aides), pink-collar jobs (administrative assistants, teachers), blue-collar jobs (police, firefighters), and professional/managerial jobs (lawyers, doctors, executives).

Here are some examples of family responsibilities discrimination:

  • firing or demoting employees when they become pregnant;
  • passing over highly qualified mothers for hire or promotion in favor of less qualified fathers or women without children;
  • firing employees without valid business reasons when they return from maternity or paternity leave;
  • denying flexibility to employees who want it for child care reasons, while allowing flexibility to employees for non-family reasons (e.g., to participate on a sports team);
  • firing employees whose spouses or elderly parents become disabled for fear of increased absenteeism or higher health insurance premiums; and
  • fabricating work infractions or performance deficiencies to justify dismissal of employees with family responsibilities.

Have Questions About FRD?

Check out WorkLife Law’s Frequently Asked Questions. If you need more information, send your questions to us through our contact form.

Fact Sheet also available as a pdf.