On April 22, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") issued its "Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities." This guidance supplements the 2007 guidance regarding disparate treatment of employee-caregivers by identifying suggested practices employers should consider to reduce the risk of equal employment opportunity violations against, and remove barriers to equal employment opportunities for, workers with caregiving responsibilities.
- The guidance, which admittedly goes "beyond federal nondiscrimination requirements," adds a new twist to commonly known best employment practices, including as follows:
- Train managers about how applicable law affects managerial decisions impacting workers with caregiving responsibilities;
- Develop, disseminate, and enforce a strong Equal Employment Opportunity Policy that (a) identifies common stereotypes or biases about caregivers and examples of unlawful conduct flowing from those biases and (b) prohibits retaliation against those who report discrimination or harassment based on caregiving responsibilities;
- Educate managers at all levels about and ensure compliance with the company's work-life policies;
- Promptly and appropriately respond to complaints of caregiver discrimination;
- Audit the company's recruitment, hiring, promotion, compensation, performance evaluation, and separation practices to ensure decisions and assessments are based on specific, job-related factors and not on caregiving responsibilities;
- Ensure that job opportunities are communicated to all eligible employees, including those with caregiving responsibilities;
- Review workplace policies that restrict flexibility for business necessity and consider modifications to requirements such as mandatory overtime and fixed hours of work;
- Provide reasonable personal or sick leave to allow employees to attend to caregiving responsibilities, even if not required to do so by law; and
- Professionally develop the potential of employees, supervisors, and executives without regard to caregiving responsibilities, including providing training, equal opportunities to participate in complex work, and equal access to workplace networks to all employees.
Employers should review this guidance carefully as part of their ongoing EEO compliance efforts.