While there are laws that prevent people from being fired for reasons related to someone’s race, gender or religious beliefs, there are no such protections for caretakers, at least not in California. If someone needs to take time off of work or have a few exceptions made for them because they are a parent or taking care of an elderly relative, their employer is under no legal obligation to make concessions for them.

According to some experts, the problem is that businesses have not kept up with shifting demographics in the home and families. In the past, there was generally someone at home to deal with issues related to caring for children or family members. However, with so many single parents and households where both parents work, dealing with these types of problems sometimes interferes with work schedules.

Although people have access to time off through the Family Medical Leave Act, it is limited to serious medical conditions and can only be used if someone works for a company with more than 50 employees and has been there for more than a year. Legislation that has been proposed and is in the state Legislature would offer protection to individuals who provide medical or supervisory care for their children, their spouse or parents, but the law is unlikely to pass as is because its opponents feel it is too vague.

Workplace discrimination is illegal, and business owners are not allowed to hire, fire, promote or give raises based on anything but an individual’s performance. If someone is not being treated fairly, a lawyer may be able to help them understand their options and pursue legal action.

Source: Bloomberg, “NYC, Calif. bills show fight to protect caregivers“, Jim Fitzgerald, February 03, 2014