Federal Employee Issues: Discrimination Based On Parental/Caregiver Status
This guide provides an overview of possible claims for parental and/or caregiver discrimination in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints and is applicable to federal government applicants and employees.
OverviewAn applicant or employee, referred to as the complainant, may file an EEO complaint with the applicable federal government agency alleging that he or she was subjected to discrimination because the complainant is a parent or cares for a family member with a medical condition. This guide discusses when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may decide such claims, as well as when it cannot decide these claims.
Discrimination Based On Parental Status Is Not ActionableThe EEOC only has jurisdiction, meaning the ability to hear and decide, claims alleging discrimination based on certain protected classes, such as sex or race. The EEOC is clear that it does not have jurisdiction over a complainant*s claim that he or she was discriminated against or harassed because the complainant is a parent. See Complainant v. Dep*t of the Treasury, EEOC App. Nos. 0120143110, 0120143111 (Mar. 10, 2015); see also Lightener v. Soc. Sec. Admin., EEOC App. No. 0120081197 (Oct. 13, 2009) (Commission holding *We have no jurisdiction over the basis of *parental status.**). However, specific to the facts of each case, the EEOC does offer other ways such claims can be presented to allow the EEOC to have jurisdiction, including discrimination based on caregiver status.
Discrimination Based On Caregiver Status May Be ActionableThe EEOC has explained that although it does not have the ability to hear and decide claims of parental status discrimination, it does have jurisdiction over claims that an applicant/employee has been discriminated against based on assumptions of his or her sex related to caring for another. For example, in Complainant v. Department of the Treasury, the EEOC explained that *Title VII does not permit employers to treat female workers less favorably merely on the gender-based assumption that a particular female worker will assume caretaking responsibilities or that a female worker's caretaking responsibilities will interfere with her work performance.* EEOC App. Nos. 0120143110, 0120143111 (Mar. 10, 2015) (citations omitted). Such a claim, although it may be related to parental status, is an actionable claim of sex discrimination. See id.
ConclusionEach situation is different. As such, this is not a question that can be answered without evaluating each case individually. Employment attorneys experienced in representing federal employees, such as those as The Wick Law Office, can provide advice to assist you with this determination.