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Caregivers not given much respect in the workplace

You may prefer not to talk about your home life while you're at work, especially if that life includes caring for an elderly parent or a disabled child. What you may not know is that there are likely others in your workplace who are going through the same thing, holding down a job while providing essential care to a loved one. Some surveys report that over 20 percent of workers over the age of 45 are also caregivers.

It is a labor of love, and while you certainly have your moments of frustration and impatience, you know this is the best situation for your loved one, and you are glad to help. However, your employer may not feel so generous. In fact, the reason many keep their status as caregivers secret at work is because they fear workplace discrimination.

Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Oregon employers know that a worker who is also a caregiver is likely to cost the company money. In fact, one recent report shows that employees who care for an elderly parent may cost their companies eight percent more than those who do not have that responsibility. You may be among the caregivers who suffer from health issues, many of which are associated with the added stress of your home obligations, including high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing disorders and depression.

Nevertheless, the law protects your right to care for your family no matter how it affects your boss's bottom line. If your employer persists in treating you unfairly because you are a caregiver, he or she may be committing Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Even if you perform your work duties well, your employer may discriminate against you by any of the following actions:

  • Insisting you remove your ailing loved one from the company's insurance plan
  • Denying you time off to care for your loved one
  • Harassing you on the job or allowing co-workers to harass you because of your family obligations
  • Ignoring you for a promotion you deserve
  • Demoting you
  • Terminating you for lawful absences to care for your loved one

The first step in dealing with FRD is to discuss with your employer any acts that seem discriminatory to you. Often, an open conversation will resolve the situation in a way that is satisfactory to all parties. However, this is not always the case. If your employer refuses to accommodate your family responsibilities as the law allows, you may need to seek advice about your options for obtaining fair treatment.

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