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Associational disability discrimination prohibited

New Yorkers who have disabled children or other family members may not be discriminated against at their workplaces based on the relationships they have with them. This form of discrimination is called associational disability discrimination, and it is prohibited under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Sept. 1, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that a New Mexico company hadsettled a case for $165,000. The case involved a temporary employee who was not offered a full-time job and was instead fired because of her daughter's disability. In the woman's case, the prohibited discrimination was based on her distraction caused by caring for her daughter's disability.

There are three main types of associational disability discrimination. The first type is known as expense discrimination, which is discrimination against the worker because of the cost involved with insuring the disabled relative. There is also disability by association discrimination, which is discrimination based on the fear that the worker and others will contract the family member's disabling condition. Finally, there is distraction discrimination which is based upon an employee's alleged inattentiveness caused by a family member's disability. While these cases are fortunately very rare, they can be quite distressing and damaging to workers who are being affected by them.

Employment discrimination is expressly prohibited under federal law for members of certain protected classes. People who believe that they have been the victims of prohibited workplace discrimination may want to consult with employment law attorneys to see what recourse they may have. If the circumstances warrant, an attorney could suggest that the legal process be initiated through the filing of a claim with the EEOC.

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