by Lauren E.M. Russell
Changes that will expand the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act (DDEA) to include discrimination based on family responsibilities and reproductive health decisions are set to take effect on December 30.
Under the revised law, it will be unlawful for a covered Delaware employer to discriminate against employees because of their family responsibilities. “Family responsibilities” are defined as “the obligations of an employee to care for any family member who would qualify as a covered family member under the Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA].”
What it means to “care for” an individual isn’t clear, and it isn’t limited to the grounds for coverage under the FMLA. But the law expressly acknowledges that employees must continue to comply with attendance and absenteeism policies, and employers aren’t required to accommodate employees’ need for leave to attend to family responsibilities.
The law also will prohibit employers from making employment decisions based on employees’ reproductive health decisions. “Reproductive health decision” is defined as “any decision related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device, or medical service, including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control or the planned or intended initiation or termination of pregnancy.”
The DDEA applies to all employers with four or more employees in Delaware.
For more information on the changes to the DDEA, see the August issue of Delaware Employment Law Letter.