Time & Attendance
By Jon Hyman
Sep. 6, 2016
I have been blessed with employers that are sympathetic to the fact that my son was born with some life-long medical issues. I’ve never had an issue taking time for a doctor’s appointment, or an unexpected illness, or the three weeks he spent inpatient at the Cleveland Clinic five (very) long years ago.
The EEOC reports that New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates will pay $165,000 to settle a lawsuit for associational disability discrimination. According to the agency, NMOA violated the ADA by firing a temporary employee, and failing to hire her for a full-time position, because of her relationship with her then 3-year-old disabled daughter.
EEOC v. New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates was based on the latter — distraction. According to EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill:
The ADA specifically prohibits discrimination against mothers, fathers, caregivers, family members or others who are associated with persons with disabilities. Employers, especially those employers in medical fields, should be careful to provide employment opportunities based solely on the qualifications of the employee or applicant and not impermissible factors such as their association with an individual with a disability.
It should never have happened. A mother should never have to worry about losing her job because her child has a disability. I hope the lawsuit encourages moms and dads to stand up fearlessly when things like this happen. I also hope this lawsuit and this resolution encourages companies to train supervisors and employees to assure things like this don’t happen in the workplace.
Employers, take heed and avoid discriminating against those with caregiving responsibilities for disabled family members. It’s not just the legal thing to do; it’s also the right thing to do.
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