Coalition of Private and Public Employers Support Senate Position on NOT including “family caregiver” as a protected class in the Women’s Economic Security Act

Coalition of Private and Public Employers Support Senate Position on NOT including “family caregiver” as a protected class in the Women’s Economic Security Act

April 29, 2014

We represent a unique coalition of private and public employers across the state of Minnesota unified in their support of the
Senate position on the issue of not including “family caregiver” as a protected class in the Women’s Economic Security Act.

Our coalition would like to share concerns regarding the inclusion of “family caregiver” as a protected class under the
Minnesota Human Rights Act that is included in the House bill. Currently, state and federal law provide numerous protections
for family members to care for their loved ones. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills include provisions expanding for
whom an employee can use existing sick leave to include parents-in-law and grandchildren. We do not oppose this expansion.

While we understand the intent of the proposed language, adding a vaguely defined protected class status to a broad swath of
the workforce will increase the threat of litigation whenever a public or private employee is lawfully disciplined or terminated.
Adding status as a family caregiver to the protected class in the Minnesota Human Rights Act will result in significant
implementation issues that will create an unworkable situation for public and private employers across the state, inevitably
hurting employees.

The provision does not explain how employers will be able to enforce attendance or performance expectations when a worker
claims an issue was due to their caregiver responsibilities. As a result, employers may be less flexible and less accommodating
overall just to avoid potential discrimination claims. Discrimination cases under the Human Rights Act are complicated and
costly, answering a complaint can cost upwards of $10,000, and a full trial can easily exceed $100,000. This could bankrupt a
significant portion of small and medium size businesses and result in significant budgetary pressure on public employers that
local communities will feel.

We urge you to support the Senate position that does not include placing family caregiver into a protected class under the
Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Bill Blazar
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Mike Hickey
State Director, National Federation of Independent Businesses

Shaunna Johnson
President, League of Minnesota Cities
City Administrator, City of Waite Park

Kirk Schneidawind,
Executive Director, Minnesota School Board Association

Patricia Nauman
Executive Director, Metro Cities

Melissa Raphan
General Counsel, Minnesota Employment Law Council

Charlie R. Weaver
Executive Director, Minnesota Business Partnership

Kathleen A. Gaylord
President, Minnesota Inter-County Association

 

 

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