Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EEOC releases “Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities”

It’s been almost two years since the EEOC released its Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities. Since that time, buzz words such “work-life balance,” “family-friendly,” and “family responsibilities” have been put to use in companies all across America, and juries have continued to punish businesses that punish employees who prioritize their families over their work.

To help employers navigate these dangerous waters, today the EEOC published its Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities. While these “Best Practices” are couched in terms of discrimination against caregivers, the tips offered by the EEOC, while not groundbreaking, are universally applicable to any employment practice. Some of the more important tips are:
  • Develop, disseminate, and enforce a strong EEO policy that provides examples of illegal conduct and identifies a contact person for questions or complaints.
  • Ensure that managers at all levels are aware of, and comply with, the organization’s policies.
  • Respond to complaints of discrimination efficiently and effectively.
  • Protect against retaliation.
  • Focus on qualifications, not characteristics.
  • Develop specific, job-related qualification standards for each position that reflect the duties, functions, and competencies of the position.
  • Identify and remove barriers to re-entry for individuals who have taken leaves of absence from the workforce.
  • Ensure that employment decisions are well-documented and transparent (to the extent feasible).
  • Monitor compensation practices and performance appraisal systems for patterns of potential discrimination.
  • Reassign job duties that employees are unable to perform because of pregnancy or other caregiving responsibilities.
  • Provide reasonable personal or sick leave.