In an interview with Law360, Christopher P. Maugans, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Employment and Labor group, discussed the complex, yet federally underdeveloped, caregiver bias laws. In light of COVID-19, there are concerns regarding bias towards employees who serve as caregivers to disabled and elderly family members.
“I do think it would be, from my standpoint, helpful, from the federal standpoint, if a federal law was enacted,” said Chris. “Because it would be applicable to everybody, and it would be clear. It’s hard with companies that just have employees all over the place now geographically.”
Chris also discussed how New York State has begun to expand caregiver related legislation, such as expanding paid family leave to include siblings. “We’re seeing these laws that already seemed to be fairly inclusive when they were enacted are now even more inclusive, trying to account for situations that I think we’re uniquely on the rise during the pandemic,” he explained.
However, Chris cautions how employers may succumb to unconscious bias towards caregivers and must be aware of how to avoid such scenarios. For example, an employer may research a potential employee’s social media presence and learn they have children. “Now you have maybe a decision-maker at the employer finding out information that was not accessible 20 years ago,” Chris emphasized. “And their unconscious bias could perhaps lead to them not hiring that applicant.”
“Jumble Of Caregiver Bias Laws Vexes Workers And Employers,” Law360, March 15, 2022
Christopher P. Maugans concentrates his practice in complex commercial litigation and matters involving employment and labor law. With a focus on serving both public- and private-sector clients, Chris handles matters involving discrimination claims, improper-practice charges, employee grievance arbitrations, General Municipal Law 207-c proceedings, and New York Education Law 3020-a hearings, as well as proceedings under Article 75 and Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR). Chris helps clients prepare for and navigate trials, mediations, arbitrations, and hearings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR). He regularly counsels clients and litigates the enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment agreements, including non-competition and non-solicitation provisions.