EEOC Issues Guidance on Treatment of Caregivers

May 25, 2007 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released guidance with regard to the unlawful disparate treatment of workers with caregiving responsibilities in an effort to help employers, employees and investigators understand discrimination boundaries.

According to the EEOC , the guidance is not intended to create a new protected category but rather to illustrate circumstances in which stereotyping or other forms of disparate treatment may violate Title VII or the prohibition under the Americans with Disabilities Act against discrimination based on a worker’s association with an individual with a disability.

The first category that the EEOC addresses is discrimination against female caregivers. According to the agency, relevant evidence in charges alleging disparate treatment of female caregivers may include some of the following instances:

  • Whether decisionmakers or other officials made stereotypical or derogatory comments about pregnant workers or about working mothers or other female caregivers;
  • Whether the respondent began subjecting the charging party or other women to less favorable treatment soon after it became aware that they were pregnant;
  • Whether, despite the absence of a decline in work performance, the respondent began subjecting the charging party or other women to less favorable treatment after they assumed caregiving responsibilities.

The second area the EEOC addresses is pregnancy discrimination, in which employers might   make assumptions about pregnancy, such as assumptions about the commitment of pregnant workers or their ability to perform certain physical tasks.

Next, the agency addresses discrimination against male caregivers. For instance, it warns that employers should carefully distinguish between pregnancy-related leave and other forms of leave, ensuring that any leave specifically provided to women alone is limited to the period that women are incapacitated by pregnancy and childbirth.

Fourth, the EEOC looks at discrimination against women of color. The EEOC gives the examples of a Latina working mother who might be subjected to discrimination by her supervisor based on his stereotypical notions about working mothers or pregnant workers, as well as his hostility toward Latinos generally.

To view the entire set of guidelines issued by the EEOC, visit .