William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


Katherine Lease


There is a growing intersection between a woman’s child-rearing and work responsibilities, but federal law inadequately addresses this issue. For mothers who have a child with a disability, they face increased parenting demands, which often lead to detrimental changes in their employment status and negative perceptions of their work ability and commitment. Many women face expectations to simultaneously be the perfect mother and the ideal worker, but this is largely unattainable when faced with the demands of raising a child with a disability.

This Note will explore the development and inadequacy of the current protection against association discrimination, that is, discrimination based on one’s association with a person with a disability. This Note will explain how these parents are likely to experience the effects of their child’s disability in profound ways and how this translates to discrimination in the workplace.

This Note suggests a solution to help working parents who are the primary caregivers of a child with a disability. This proposal will extend the reasonable accommodation provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act to cover primary caregivers of children with disabilities. This Note will explain why these primary caregivers will most often be women and will discuss the significance of this expansion for the women within this class. This Note will conclude by explaining the implications of this expansion to caregivers of other classes, such as caregivers of the elderly.