Booker Reintroduces Legislation Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination

Government and Politics

December 1, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has reintroduced the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act, legislation that would expand protections for family caregivers from discrimination by their employers. Currently, many caregivers are ineligible for any form of protection under federal law and continue to face discrimination in the workplace due to their family caregiving responsibilities.

The legislation would prohibit employers from firing, demoting, mistreating, refusing to hire, or taking other adverse employment action against workers who are caregivers for their loved ones.

The legislation would also prohibit employers from retaliating against a worker for seeking enforcement of these discrimination protections and it would establish a grant program to assist in preventing and combating such discrimination.

“Most family caregivers are employed and work to balance the responsibilities of their job while also providing vital services as caregivers. It is unacceptable that workers are being discriminated against simply because they have responsibilities outside of the workplace,” said Senator Booker. “Every person has the potential to become a caregiver at some point in their life, and it is essential that we create protections and provide the support needed to make sure that they can continue to care for their loved ones while they work.”

“We applaud Senator Booker for reintroducing the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act,” said Sarah Brafman, National Policy Director of A Better Balance. “Those who do the crucial work of caring for their loved ones deserve to be supported in maintaining their economic security, not penalized or discriminated against at work because of their caregiving responsibilities. Especially in the wake of the pandemic and other health crises facing families, which both brought to light many different kinds of caregiving needs and had a shockingly damaging effect on caregivers, Congress must act to provide caregivers with the protections they deserve and send the message that no worker should have to choose between the health of their family and their paycheck.”

“We applaud Senator Booker for standing up for family caregivers and reintroducing the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “Caregivers and families were already in crisis, and the pandemic made the situation even worse. Too often caregivers are penalized or discriminated against because of their caregiving responsibilities, forcing them to make impossible choices between their family and their jobs. Congress must act to protect caregivers and ensure they have the job stability and economic security they need to take care of themselves and their family members.”

“Parents should be able to both care for their children and support them financially,” said Joan C. Williams, Director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “Over the last 25 years, we’ve heard parents and other family caregivers’ calls for help reach a fever pitch; too many workers are being harassed, demoted, and even fired because they are family caregivers. We applaud the introduction of the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act as a critical measure to protect families and stem the flow of caregivers out of the workforce.”

“People with disabilities and their families are all too familiar with the discrimination that many caregivers face when they take the time they need to be with their loved ones,” said Bethany Lilly, Senior Director of Public Policy at The Arc of the United States. “We are grateful for Senator Booker’s attention to this issue and strongly support the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act. The bill would provide crucial protections for caregivers who need flexibility from their workplace to provide care. Especially as the disability service system faces a worsening staffing shortage, more family caregivers than ever will need these protections.”

“We thank Senator Booker for standing up for caregivers in the workforce. This bill will help caregivers provide for their families, while also caring for their children, parents, siblings, and other family and chosen family,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of Caring Across Generations. “Our patchwork system of care relies too heavily on unpaid caregivers who often suffer lost wages and struggle to save for retirement. Care is the work that makes all other work possible. Yet care work is still undervalued and unrecognized and as a nation, we take caregivers for granted. It’s time to protect caregivers from discrimination in the workplace. No one should have to choose between paying their bills and caring for their family.”

“Now more than ever, lawmakers must support working families. Parents and other caregivers have faced increased levels of discrimination, job loss and difficulty re-entering the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities,” said Jessica Stender, Policy Director & Deputy Legal Director of Equal Rights Advocates. “We applaud Senator Booker for reintroducing the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act in order to ensure that workers are protected from workplace discrimination based on their family responsibilities and have the flexibility they need to provide care without the risk of losing their economic security.”

“Women have long taken on the bulk of caregiving responsibilities for children and others in their households, and have too often been forced to make impossible choices between maintaining their jobs and caring for their families,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act is a much-needed measure that will protect the workplace rights of those who provide the care that we all depend on. Crucially, the bill extends these protections beyond parents to include anyone caring for members of their chosen family. Supporting caregivers is a vital measure as we strive to create workplaces that work for all people.

Throughout his time in the Senate, Senator Booker has worked on other legislation that supported family caregivers. In 2017, Booker worked with U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.-09) to reintroduce the In-Home Caregiver Assessment Resources & Education (CARE) Act, legislation that would provide the training and support caregivers need by establishing competitive grants to health care entities and community organizations to carry out family caregiver home visiting programs. These programs would allow providers to assess caregivers’ specific needs and help tailor training and resources to best serve the care recipient.

The legislation is endorsed by: The Center for WorkLife Law, National Employment Law Project, The National Alliance for Caregiving, The Caregiver Action Network, Caring Across Generations, The National Women’s Law Center, A Better Balance, National Partnership for Women & Families, The Arc of the United States, The National Domestic Workers Alliance, California Women’s Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, Main Street Alliance, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Organization for Women, NJ Citizen Action, NJ Time to Care Coalition, Workplace Justice Lab at Rutgers University, and Legal Momentum