The Minnesota Court of Appeals has overturned a state law barring family personal caregivers from collecting unemployment benefits.
The ruling announced Monday stems from the case of a Richfield man who cared for his mother under the state medical assistance program. After the man's mother died in 2011, his unemployment claim was denied by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED. The appeals court ruled against DEED, saying the law barring unemployment for family caregivers violates equal protection.
Home care workers who take care of their family members deserve equal rights, said Jamie Gulley, president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
"The state has said that this person is eligible for a certain number of hours of care at a certain wage rate," Gulley said. "And to discriminate against someone who might take that job just because they are a family member treats them as second class citizens under the law and that is just wrong."
He said the court's decision is good news for several thousand caregivers in Minnesota.
"Many of the people who care for family members have given up careers and other opportunities in order to care for someone that they love," Gulley said.. We don't think they should be discriminated just becuase they are related to that person."
A spokesman for DEED declined to comment, but said the agency is still reviewing the court's decision.