Caregiver Protection Laws And State Employer Polices Need Improvement: AARP

Caregiver protection laws are rare. As of 2012, only four states—Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey and Oregon, plus the District of Columbia—have laws over and above federal laws protecting family caregivers and those proving elder care.

States need stronger laws protecting employees with caregiver duties.
States need stronger laws protecting employees with caregiver duties.

The AARP report says additions to workplace discrimination laws are necessary to help family caregivers.

The AARP recommends the following changes to state laws regarding caregiver protection laws.

• Add the term “family caregiver status” to the list of reasons that employers are prohibited from basing decisions under state employment law.
• Define the term “family caregiver” for the purposes of employment antidiscrimination protections as “a person who cares for a family member.”
• Define “family member” as a “person who is related by blood, legal custody or marriage, a domestic partner, or a person with whom the caregiver lives in a familial relationship.”
• Ensure that anti-retaliation provisions that discrimination complaints apply to family caregivers.

The AARP report suggests that employers:

• Adopt a model policy for preventing Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD).
• Provide workplace flexibility (flextime, teleworking, compressed workweeks, etc.).
• Establish effective and predictable scheduling for hourly employees.
• Develop and provide education and training to supervisors/managers.
• Offer eldercare support resources and referral services to employees.
• Add hiring practices for people with eldercare responsibilities.

According to the AARP, studies have shown that working caregivers, while some might have odd hours, are more loyal to an employer who is flexible to their needs.

The report reviews the most horrific of caregiver discrimination lawsuits.

Some of the horror stories include:
* An employee who requested leave was turned down on the grounds that as long as his elderly father was still alive, there was no need for him to miss work to care for his mother.
* A paralegal whose father had just suffered a stroke was fired immediately after asking to leave work early to be with him.
* A factory worker who was upbraided and ultimately fired by a supervisor who contended that the time off the worker had taken to be with his coma-stricken father was illegitimate because the father was unaware of his son’s presence and could not participate in medical decisions. The factory worker was ultimately awarded $14,563.

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