On March 14, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued 18 frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on employees’ work and personal obligations.
The FAQs specifically address how employers may approach the competing job and caregiving demands of their employees and applicants without violating EEOC-enforced federal fair employment laws during the pandemic. These laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and others.
While clarifying that caregiver status alone is not a protected trait under EEOC-enforced laws, the FAQs also describe how certain employer actions related to an individual’s caregiver status may be unlawful. For example, adverse actions are unlawful if based on a protected trait, such as sex, race or disability.
Caregiver discrimination is unlawful when based on a protected trait such as sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
It is also unlawful to discriminate based on the protected trait of an individual for whom an employee or applicant provides care.
Employers may not base employment decisions on stereotypes related to gender or other protected traits, even if those decisions are well-intentioned.
While EEOC-enforced laws do not impose any general requirement to accommodate employees’ caregiving duties, other laws may require leave or other adjustments.
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