In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced legislation that expands protections for family caregivers from discrimination by their employers. The Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act would prohibit employers from firing, demoting, mistreating, refusing to hire, or taking other adverse employment action against workers who are caregivers for their loved ones. The bill would also prohibit employers from retaliating against a worker for seeking enforcement of these discrimination protections and it would establish a grant program to assist in preventing and combating such discrimination. Currently, many caregivers are ineligible for any form of protection under federal law and continue to face discrimination in the workplace due to their family caregiving responsibilities.
“The support and services family caregivers provide their loved ones are critical in maintaining their wellbeing,” Sen. Booker said. “Most family caregivers are employed and work to balance the responsibilities of their job while also providing that care. It is unacceptable that workers are being discriminated against simply because they have responsibilities outside of the workplace. Just about every working person has the potential to become a caregiver at some point in their life, and it is imperative that we create protections and provide the support needed to make sure that they can continue to care for their loved ones while they work.”
“This comprehensive and balanced bill will help employees with caregiving responsibilities do right by both their families and their employers—and will help employers tap the full talent pool,” Joan Williams, Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law said.
“Many people with disabilities rely on family caregivers, something that has only increased as the pandemic has impacted the disability service system,” Bethany Lilly, Director of Income Policy, The Arc of the United States said. “Children with disabilities have lost services usually provided by schools and many adults with disabilities are suddenly without their usual routines and support professionals. COVID-19 has left all caregivers struggling to balance work and being there for their loved ones—it is incredibly important that caregivers be protected now and as we reopen.”
As of 2020, AARP found that 53 million Americans care for their sick loved ones and 61% of them work a full-time job. Also, according to a report done by WorkLife Law, between 2006 and 2016, family responsibilities discrimination cases increased 269 percent. It also found that six out of ten caregivers received a form of retribution by their employers once it was discovered that they were caregivers. Examples include employers cutting back their employee's work hours and/or giving out poor performance reviews.
Throughout his time in the Senate, Sen. Booker has worked on other legislation that supported family caregivers. In 2017, Booker worked with Rep. Pascrell to reintroduce the In-Home Caregiver Assessment Resources & Education (CARE) Act, which would provide the training and support caregivers need by establishing competitive grants to health care entities and community organizations to carry out family caregiver home visiting programs. These programs would allow providers to assess caregivers’ specific needs and help tailor training and resources to best serve the care recipient.
The legislation is endorsed by the Center for WorkLife Law, National Employment Law Project, the National Alliance for Caregiving, the Caregiver Action Network, Caring Across Generations, the National Women’s Law Center, A Better Balance, National Partnership for Women & Families, The Arc of the United States, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Full text of the bill is available here.