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Protecting Against Family Caregiver Lawsuits


The October 3 HR Management Ideas and Trends article "Protecting Against Family Caregiver Lawsuits" featured quotes from Chicago attorney Peter Gillespie. The article focused on Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD) claims. These claims are based on one of two allegations: that an employee has been treated less favorably because he had an obligation to care for a family member or there is a pregnancy. Peter said that these claims are not simply interference or retaliation claims under the FMLA. As the population ages, there may be an increasing number of individuals providing assistance to parents or other family members. He encouraged employers to review handbook policies with an eye towards revising policies that could lead to FRD claims. "Managers and supervisors should be made aware of leave, attendance, and flex-time policies that may assist employees who have family care responsibilities and should encourage employees who are eligible to take advantage of these policies to do so." He also noted: "In order to avoid liability for this type of claim, it may not be sufficient to simply comply with an employer's obligations under the FMLA and provide PTO. FRD claims can arise from hiring, promotion, compensation and disciplinary decisions as well."

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