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Local laws prohibit discrimination against caregivers

A new report from the Center for Worklife Law concludes that at least 63 local governments in 22 states—including some of the nation’s major urban areas—have passed employment anti‐discrimination laws that go beyond federal and state statutes to ensure that those with caregiving responsibilities are not discriminated against at work.  Cases filed under these laws may lead to recovery of substantial damages, fines, and  attorneys fees.

The laws are designed to protect employees who are penalized at work—fired, demoted, denied promotions or employment benefits, or harassed—because of their caregiving responsibilities at home, whether for children, an ill partner, or an elderly relative. 

The report highlights a case from Chicago where the Chicago Commission on Human Relations awarded a mother of two nearly $215,000 in damages and fines, plus $87,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, in her complaint for employment discrimination based on parental status under Chicago’s Human Rights Ordinance.

The report also reminds us that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued Enforcement Guidance on caregiver discrimination in 2007, explaining how discrimination against caregivers can be litigated under existing federal law, and suggested best practices for employers in 2009.

According to the report, St. Paul is the only community in Minnesota that addresses caregiver discrimination.

The entire report, which includes a list of states and communities with such laws,  is available at http://www.worklifelaw.org/pubs/LocalFRDLawsReport.pdf

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