March 14, 2022
EEOC Updates COVID-19 and Caregiver Guidance
On March 14th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced new guidance related to caregiver responsibilities discrimination. The EEOC first issued guidance on this type of discrimination back in 2007.
So why issue updated guidance now? “During the pandemic, employees who are caregivers have adjusted to quarantine requirements or abrupt closures or schedule changes at schools, care facilities, childcare centers or businesses…As the pandemic evolves, and the country moves to a new normal, we cannot assume caregiving obligations have ended.”
The guidance gives a few examples such as:
- female employees cannot be given more favorable treatment than male employees because of a gender-based assumption about who may have caregiving responsibilities for children;
- the same applies to individuals based on race, disability, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity. Interesting, the EEOC does not expressly mention religion in Section I, but the same rationale would apply, and
- legal liability can arise under other federal laws such as the Immigration and Nationality Act enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice. This might arise if an employer discriminated against individuals of a certain nationality or citizenship because of stereotypes related to COVID-19.
- Read Section I of the EEOC’s “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and…EEO Laws.” (4 Q & A’s)
- The new Guidance provides 18 Q & A’s addressing Caregiver Responsibilities Discrimination.”
- Next you provide your management team with related training, include this 11-minute video on caregiver responsibilities discrimination with them.
- HR professionals, business owners and managers may want to review the EEOC’s “Employers Best Practices” here.