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Family caregivers carry heavy loads at home and at work

The latest statistics reveal that 60 percent of employees in California and across the country are also caring for a loved one in some capacity. Most of them are working full-time jobs and are experiencing health issues of their own, either because of age or the stress of their burdens.

If you are among those caregivers, you know firsthand how difficult it is to balance the needs of your ailing loved one with your job, your family and your personal well-being. Unfortunately, many in your circumstances find that their employers are not always compassionate toward their situations, and some face outright discrimination because of their position as caregivers.

What does FRD look like?

The law protects you from many kinds of discrimination, and among them is Family Responsibilities Discrimination. If you have caregiving responsibilities to your children, your ailing partner, your elderly parents or yourself as an expectant mother, you may be the victim of FRD if your employer does any of the following:

  • Rejecting you for a position for which you are well qualified
  • Passing you over for a promotion you deserve
  • Demoting you
  • Harassing you because of your absences
  • Terminating you
  • Pressuring you into removing your ailing loved one from your health insurance plan
  • Denying you the legal right to time off to care for an ailing loved one

The fear of any of these consequences may make you reluctant to approach your employer to request time off to tend to the needs of your family, especially if you have seen co-workers mistreated for similar reasons. In fact, about 28 percent of care-giving employees report they have kept their family obligations secret from their employers.

Finding support wherever you can

Advocates for family caregivers remind them to take care of themselves. Many caregivers admit they delay seeking medical attention for their own complaints, and you may be among those suffering from untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, pulmonary disease and depression. Support groups exist to help you carry the load, and you may find great benefit in taking advantage of their services.

Meanwhile, if you feel your employer has discriminated against you because you are a family caregiver, you may begin with a calm discussion to ascertain why your employer treated you this way. If this conversation doesn't end satisfactorily or the negative actions continue, you have every right to seek assistance from a legal professional.

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