Annette takes on the topic of discrimination against caregivers of those with special needs in this podcast episode. This podcast being aired during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, it’s a very timely topic as many of our special needs caregivers are uncertain about their employment future.
Rebecca G. Pontikes, is Annette’s guest and is the founder of Pontikes Law, LLC. She represents employees in all areas of employment law, specializing in gender and family responsibility (caregiver) discrimination, sexual harassment, negotiation of employment contracts and separation agreements, non-competition agreements, retaliation and whistle-blower claims (in all sectors, including the government and financial sectors), violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and violations of the wage statutes.
Rebecca starts out by talking about how many of these issues arise out of what she calls “loose lips” comments by an employer. An employee talks about a different work arrangement due to caregiver responsibilities and an employer makes a comment that sets off a red flag for some. Someone may also inquire about family medical leave and could be put through a humiliating experience.
Rebecca and Annette also discuss stereotypes for both men and women and Rebecca points out that stereotypes are illegal when it comes to employment. She discusses how most caregivers are covered under the ADA and how many states as well as cities have implemented their own set of laws and regulations regarding family leave and caregiver responsibilities.
Rebecca suggests as a resource to look at a number of avenues such as the Human Rights Commission in your state as well as www.Worklifelaw.org which has resources for caregivers and others.
As far as laws regarding family leave and unemployment, it can vary by state and by the size of the business, so it is a good idea to understand this and do your research.
But what can happen during a crisis such as COVID-19? Rebecca says you need to understand current unemployment benefits, job protections and stay up to date on these fast-moving laws and understand coverage for hardships can change. You need to stay on top of the news to know how your state is handling the crisis and what legislation is being passed.
Rebecca also has tips for those who may be in a situation where their employment has stopped due to COVID-19. She makes very clear that you still have rights and that family medical leave is the law. Go get unemployment benefits in motion as soon as you can and notify your employer that you understand you have those rights. Also, understand that some of the same workplace accommodations are still relevant even if you are working from home. And that you could be on unpaid leave and still have job protection.
Ultimately though the podcast discusses that we are all community and we need to act as one.
You can find Rebecca at: www.pontikeslawllc.com