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Caregivers and associational disability discrimination

New Jersey employees who are also caregivers for a disabled relative might not know that they are protected against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law prohibits three kinds of this type of discrimination known as expense, disability by association and distraction.

The first prevents discrimination based on the cost the disabled person might cause to the employer's health plan. The second prevents discrimination based on the employer's concern that the employee, as a relative of the disabled person, might develop the same disability. The third protects employees from being discriminated against at work if their caregiving duties result in their inattentiveness on the job.

Cases based on associational disability discrimination are rare, but they do occur. In New Mexico, a temporary employee obtained a $165,000 settlement from an employer who fired her rather than hiring her on permanently. The employee had a 3-year-old daughter who was disabled, and she alleged discrimination based on distraction. It was the first case the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed in New Mexico related to associational disability discrimination, but it was successful.

Many employees are unaware of their rights in the workplace, and even employees who are broadly familiar with discrimination laws might be unfamiliar with areas such as associational disability discrimination. Furthermore, temporary might think that they do not have the same rights as permanent employees. Similarly, immigrant workers are often unaware of their rights as well. Therefore, people who feels that they are facing retaliation from an employee for any reason unrelated to job performance might want to have a consultation with an attorney to find out if their employer might be violating any workplace discrimination laws.

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Lawrence N. Lavigne, Esq., L.L.C.
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