Employment law has expanded in recent decades to account for different populations requiring special protections in the workplace. Women, members of ethnic minorities and people with specific disabilities have all received legal validation of the right to meaningfully engage with and avoid discrimination in their workplaces.
Age discrimination has received more attention as members of the workplace age across generations. However, there is no current federal law protecting employees with responsibilities for the aging, in the workplace or at home.
A study last year reported a 650 percent jump in litigation involving elder care since the last decade. The best protection on the books is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows employees with elder care responsibilities who have been employed at a large company for more than a year to take up to three months of unpaid leave.
The FMLA covers just over half of the U.S. workforce. An amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2008 does protect workers who associate with disabled individuals, but that only covers those with grave and permanent disabilities.
Cases alleging workplace discrimination due to employees’ responsibility for elder relatives may cover job loss, wage loss and other real losses caused by discrimination. Although the FMLA and ADA do not allow for high actual damages, claims for emotional distress may inflate damages awarded by courts or in settlements.
Legal representation may be recommended for people preparing a claim against workplace discrimination. An attorney may help analyze all available options in this new field of employment law.
Source: Benefit News, “Eldercare litigation: The new fault line,” Sheryl Smolkin, Oct. 09, 2017