I Have a Disabled Family Member. Does the Law Offer Me Any Protections?

May 8, 2019

Disability discrimination in the workplace is against the law under both federal and state law. Nonetheless, that does not stop employers from discriminating against their disabled employees. An employee’s only protection against this is being knowledgeable about their rights and addressing these issues. The purpose of this blog is to provide some examples of disability discrimination throughout the employment process.

In terms of federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 164 prevents employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities in all stages of the employment process, including, hiring, firing and compensation decisions. Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides further protection to employees with medical conditions that qualify.

Meanwhile, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency that  responsible for enforcing both federal and state laws in terms of fair employment practices.

One particular protection that most employees are unaware is known as the associational disability protection. The associational disability protection prevents employers from discrimination against an employee because that employee is associated with someone with a disability member.

Firing Someone Because of A Family Member’s Disability- Associational Disability

As stated above, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate, harass or make any job related decisions, on the basis of that employees disability. Most employees do not know that those same rules apply to an employee who is associated with someone with a disability. According to the EEOC, “The association provision of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a person, whether or not he or she has a disability, because of his or her known relationship or association with a person with a known disability. This means that an employer is prohibited from making adverse employment decisions based on unfounded concerns about the known disability of a family member or anyone else with whom the applicant or employee has a relationship or association.”

For example, consider an employee who has a child with a disability. The employee is terminated because she requests time off to take care of her child with the disability. This a form of wrongful termination and is illegal. An employer cannot take wrongful employment action against an employee due to their association with a disabled family member.

Does This Protection Apply only to Family Members?

A common question regarding associational disability is whether the disabled person must be directly related for the protection to apply. The short answer is, no. According to the EEOC, “The ADA does not require a family relationship for an individual to be protected by the association provision. The key is whether the employer is motivated by the individual’s relationship or association with a person who has a disability.”

As such, for this protection to apply, there does not have to be a direct familial relationship between the injured employee and the disabled person with whom they are associated with.

What Specific Protections Are Provided?

According to the EEOC, an employer may not terminate or take any adverse action against  an employee due to that person’s known association with a disability. Further, an employer may not deny an employee who has an association with a person with a disability a promotion or deny them health care.

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to discrimination and harassment  in the workplace because of their association with someone with a disability,  then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing retaliation are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.