Are Parents Protected from Discrimination
in the Workplace?

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September 12, 2007

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 403
Subscribers: 53,268

In This Issue:

ADA Protections at Work

Employee Benefit Protections for Parents

Family and Medical Leave Act Protections

Find Help at the Yellow Pages for Kids

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More Resources from Wrightslaw

Planning for the Future: Special Need Trusts

Procedural Safeguards

National Employment Lawyers' Association
Section 504 and ADA
Free Newsletters
Yellow Pages for Kids

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043



Copyright 2007, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your website without explicit permission.

"Equality in the Workplace!" No, this is not a protest.

As the parent of a child with a disability and/or serious medical condition, you must deal with anxiety about your child's health and safety and the well-being of your family.

If you are the working parent of a child with a chronic health problem or medical condition, you may also be at high risk for employment discrimination. You need to know about the laws that protect you from discrimination.

If you've spent much time at Wrightslaw, you are familiar with procedural safeguards. Congress included these safeguards in IDEA to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.

What legal protections are available in the workplace?

  • Do you have a right to take leave time to participate in IEP meetings or hearings?
  • Can an employer fire you after your child is born with a disability?
  • Did you lose a promotion because of time missed caring for your child?

Several federal laws contain "anti-discrimination" provisions that apply to parents of children with disabilities. You'll learn more about these employment protections in this issue of the Special Ed Advocate.

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ADA Protections at Work by Brian East, Esq.

Employers sometimes discriminate against parents of children with disabilities. But the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits most employers from firing a parent or excluding them from a job opportunity because the parent has a child with a disability.

The ADA does not guarantee that you will receive leave to attend an IEP meeting. It does guarantee that you cannot be treated differently because your child has a disability.

In ADA Protections at Work, Brian East, Senior Attorney with Advocacy, Inc. explains who is protected by the ADA. Read this list to find out if you are protected.

Do you have a right to take leave to care for your child or attend an IEP meeting or hearing? It depends. "If a company gives unpaid leave to others for certain personal or family reasons, it cannot deny similar leave to you because your need is related to your child's disability."

In ADA Protections at Work, learn who is protected, what protections are provided and which are restricted or limited. If you are experiencing workplace discrimination because your child has a disability or illness, you need to read the FAQs about the Association Provision of the ADA.

It's worth investigating.

Check these pages for more information. Discrimination: Section 504 and ADA & Parental Protections.

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Employee Benefit Protections for Parents by Claire Kennedy-Wilkins, Esq.

ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal law that governs employee benefit plans like health insurance.

In Protecting Employee Benefits for Parents of Ill Children and Children with Disabilities, Claire Kennedy-Wilkins, Senior Associate Attorney, who represents plaintiffs in ERISA cases, explains, "...your employer cannot legally fire you because of the high cost of providing health insurance to your child who is ill or who has a disability."

As a parent of a child with a disability, you know how costly health benefits can be. Read Protecting Employee Benefits for Parents of Ill Children and Children with Disabilities to learn about steps you should take if you think your employer has violated your rights.

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Family & Medical Leave Act Protections by Loring Spolter, Esq.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides important job protections for parents who take time off from work because of children with serious health concerns.

  • Who is protected?
  • Leave - for how long?
  • What is short term leave?

In Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Protections for Parents, attorney Loring Spolter describes qualifying conditions, leave, protections, advanced notice, wages and benefits, awards and damages under FMLA.

Mr. Spolter, employment law attorney, created an Family Medical Leave Act Checklist to help you minimize difficulties and preserve legal rights when seeking FMLA leave.

Find Help at the Yellow Pages for Kids

"I need an attorney. I live in El Paso."

"I need a speech language therapist for my child with autism. I live in Anaheim."

"We need a financial advisor to help us with a special needs trust. We live in New Jersey."

Check the listings in your State Yellow Pages. You'll find attorneys, advocates, financial advisors, speech language therapists, educational consultants, psychologists, educational diagnosticians, health care providers, academic therapists, tutors, and occupational therapists for children with disabilities on the Yellow Pages for Kids for your state.

You'll also find Directories of State Departments of Education, Parent Training Information Centers, and Legal and Advocacy Resources.

Download and print the Yellow Pages for Kids Flyer. The Yellow Pages Flyer is a great handout at conferences, seminars, training programs, and workshops.

Ask your child's teacher to post your state Yellow Pages flyer in the teacher's lounge and guidance office. Ask your PTA or SEPTA to distribute the flyer. Ask the school to include the Yellow Pages flyer in your school newspaper too!

Do you provide services to children with disabilities and their families? Are YOU listed in the Yellow Pages for Kids? No? Fill out the Application.

Listings are FREE!

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

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