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Caregivers get little respect in the workplace

At the end of the day, when you think about all the things that are most important to you, the ones that rise to the top are likely your family and your friends. Those closest to you make your life worthwhile. You may wish you could devote all your time to caring for them, but, of course, you have to work each day.

However, when your job interferes with your ability to care for your family, you may feel a conflict that is difficult to resolve, especially if you have a family member who relies on your help. You are not alone if you are facing mistreatment at work because you are a family caregiver.

Caregivers don't always take care of themselves

If you are a caregiver for an elderly parent or ailing child, you probably see your daily life as a delicate balancing act. You must work to pay your bills, but there are days when your loved one needs you. A recent study showed that about 22 percent of workers between the ages of 45 and 64 are also caregivers. Almost 60 percent of caregivers work fulltime jobs while managing the needs of their loved one.

This likely means you neglect your own health. You can hardly ask off work for your own doctor's appointment, so you may miss your annual physicals and screenings. Many California workers who are also caregivers report suffering from high blood pressure, heart issues and COPD at much younger ages than is typical. Many also suffer from depression.

Are you mistreated at work?

In addition to the stress of caring for your loved one and your own medical concerns, you may be facing discrimination on the job. The fact that you miss time because of your loved one's needs or your own health may bring out the worst in your employer. If you experience any of the following, you may be a victim of Family Responsibility Discrimination:

  • Harassed for asking for legally permitted time off
  • Demoted
  • Passed over for a promotion or pay raise
  • Pressured to remove your loved one from the company insurance policy
  • Terminated

Even if your job performance has not suffered because of your additional responsibilities, the behavior of some employers may be based on some preconceived notions of how family caregivers behave. This is the definition of discrimination.

The law protects you from discrimination based on your role as a caregiver for a loved one, whether it is an aging parent or a child with disabilities. If you are suffering mistreatment on the job, and you believe it is because of your responsibilities at home, there are steps you can take to seek redress for any harm you have endured.

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