The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Questions and Answers about EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance
on
Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Notice Concerning The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act Of 2008

This document was issued prior to enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which took effect on January 1, 2009.  The ADAAA broadened the statutory definition of disability, as summarized in this list of specific changes.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities. This document illustrates circumstances under which discrimination against a working parent or other caregiver constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under the federal EEO statutes.

Q: Why is the EEOC issuing this document?

A: Changing workplace demographics, including women’s increased participation in the labor force, have created the potential for greater discrimination against working parents and others with caregiving responsibilities. The new guidance is intended to assist employers, employees, and Commission staff in determining whether discrimination against persons with caregiving responsibilities constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under federal EEO law.

Q: Are caregivers a protected group under the federal EEO statutes?

A: No. The federal EEO statutes do not prohibit discrimination based solely on parental or other caregiver status. Under the federal EEO laws, discrimination must be based on a protected characteristic such as sex or race. However, some state or local laws may provide broader protections for caregivers. A particular caregiver also may have certain rights under other federal laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Q: When does discrimination against a worker with caregiving responsibilities constitute unlawful disparate treatment?

A: Unlawful disparate treatment arises where a worker with caregiving responsibilities is subjected to discrimination based on a protected characteristic under federal EEO law. Generally, this means that, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, unlawful disparate treatment arises where a caregiver is subjected to discrimination based on sex and/or race.

Unlawful disparate treatment of a caregiver also can arise under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 where an employer discriminates against a worker based on his or her association with an individual with a disability.

Q: What are some common circumstances under which discrimination against a worker with caregiving responsibilities might constitute unlawful disparate treatment under federal EEO law?

A: The new enforcement guidance illustrates various circumstances under which discrimination against a caregiver might violate federal EEO law. Examples include:


This page was last modified on May 09, 2019.

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