New Legal Treatise on Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Employment lawyers and HR professionals now have a go-to reference for issues involving employees with family caregiving obligations: Family Responsibilities Discrimination by Cynthia Thomas Calvert, Joan C. Williams, and Gary Phelan (Bloomberg BNA 2014).

Just published, this first-of-its-kind legal treatise provides a comprehensive explanation of the rights and obligations of employers and employees when employees are pregnant, have young children, or act as caregivers for aging parents. Here are some of the topics covered by the treatise:

  • Federal laws prohibiting FRD. The treatise covers the federal laws used by plaintiffs’ lawyers to bring FRD claims, including Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, ERISA, and the Equal Pay Act. The use of each law is described in detail, with practice pointers for both plaintiffs’ and management-side lawyers and a collection of relevant case law by jurisdiction.
  • State-by-state overview of laws. In addition to the federal laws that govern FRD, many states, counties, and cities have laws that cover family caregivers. Here are just a few of the jurisdictions that have FRD laws: Minnesota, Alaska, District of Columbia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.  There are more than 90 additional jurisdictions.
  • Maternity and paternity leave. In addition to covering leave for new parents under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the treatise answers such questions as: Do employees have a right to maternity leave under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act? Which states require employers to give maternity leave? Does an employer break the law if it refuses to give new fathers the same amount of leave as new mothers? How much leave can an employee take and still have his or her job held open? Can employers ask employees to work while they are on leave? When does an employer have to extend the employee’s leave?
  • Pregnancy Accommodation.  The treatise discusses the various sources of employers’ obligations to provide accommodations to pregnant employees, including newly-enacted state laws. It provides guidelines from case law, regulations, and medical professionals for determining appropriate accommodations.
  • Discrimination based on association with a family member who has a disability. An employer who allows employees to change their schedules to attend classes or participate in sports may face a discrimination lawsuit if it does not similarly allow employees to change their schedules to care for a family member with a disability. This is just one example of how the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws play a role in FRD.
  • Investigation of FRD complaints. The treatise provides a roadmap for HR professionals to use in handling complaints of discrimination from employees.
  • FRD Prevention Program. Employers can reduce their likelihood of being sued for FRD and improve their ability to manage caregiving employees, and this treatise shows how.
Employment lawyers and HR professionals have to understand FRD to provide competent advice to their clients. This treatise makes it easy to grasp the core concepts and ensures that relevant information will be at hand when a claim arises. It is available from Bloomberg BNA.

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