Employers could face stricter anti-discrimination laws, as the City Council is considering legislation to expand protection of employees who also serve as caregivers.
Under a bill authored by the city's public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, employees who are taking care of children, elderly relatives, or disabled family members would receive legal protections akin to those regarding race, gender, or religion.
The legislation will be discussed before the council's General Welfare Committee today.
Critics worry the legislation would create unfair dilemmas for employers and leave them overly vulnerable to lawsuits.
"Employers I think are scared of the idea that all of a sudden employees who have kids, which is a large percentage, will be able to raise legal questions if they want to break attendance rules or company policies," a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Walter Olson, said yesterday. "It's very poorly defined in terms of what the employer has to do to have discriminated."
Council Member Bill de Blasio, the chairman of the General Welfare Committee, said yesterday the bill was a necessary protection for working families.
"At some point in our lives, many of us will have to take care of a child or an ailing parent," Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. "People shouldn't have to worry about about losing their job on top of all of that, and they need and deserve the best protection and support the City can offer."
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines earlier this year urging employers to take care to avoid discriminating against caregivers.