The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents covered employers in Texas and around the country from discriminating against disabled employees, including those who may have associational disabilities. The latter type involves employees who have a parent or a child who has an illness or another condition that may require time off from work to take care of. There are three categories of discrimination that are expressly forbidden by the ADA.
The first is discrimination based on expense, which means an employer can’t make employment decisions based on the cost of including that relative on a health care plan. The next forbids employer decisions based on the odds that an employee may contract the same condition or may be predisposed to it. Finally, the ADA forbids employment decisions made based on distraction because an employee may pay more attention to the ill family member than on a given task while at work.
Failure to abide by those terms can be costly for an employer. The EEOC settled one case involving distraction discrimination with the New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates for $165,000. It was the first case that the EEOC had filed in the state of New Mexico on the basis of association discrimination. The victim in the case was allegedly passed over for a permanent position because her 3-year-old daughter was disabled, and the woman said that she hoped the lawsuit would inspire other parents to stand for their rights.
Disability discrimination is pernacious, and as this case shows, it provides broad protections to covered employees. People who feel that they have been the victim of behavior that is prohibited by the act may want to meet with an employment law attorney to learn more about the rights they may have.