When parents of special needs children think about discrimination, they may believe that it only occurs against their children. However, many unfortunate parents have found that they are discriminated against in the workplace. They may find that they are not given the rights that they are required by law to have or that they are looked down on for having to take time off work to care for their children. It is vital that parents understand the current laws to prevent this problem from occurring and to give them a voice to protect their families.
How Parents are Affected by the Law
- Three main U.S. laws affect parents of special needs children whether the children are underage or are adult children with disabilities who are living at home. The first act is the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law protects employees who care for a disabled child or individual of any age from discrimination. This act ensures that these parents are not treated less favorably than other employees are and that they receive the same compensation and benefits as other employees do. In addition, employers are required to hire these individuals with no additional clauses even though the employee may need to take time off work to care for his or her child.
- The second applicable law is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, sometimes called ERISA; this law deals with employee benefits. Under this Act, parents of special education children cannot be fired because of the greater health care expenses that their family has when compared to other families.
- The third law is the Family and Medical Leave Act. Often known for governing sick time and maternity leaves, this law also protects the jobs of parents who must take time off work to care for their disabled children. In addition, FMLA protects employees who are caring for disabled adult children if the child has an ADA-defined disability and cannot provide appropriate self-care. Employees are allowed to have up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.