These days, most new dads what to share the responsibilities of caring for their newborn child with the child's mother. Some companies are recognizing the importance of these shared parenting responsibilities and are granting equal amounts of leave to parents of newborn or newly adopted children regardless of the employee's gender.
However, that's not always the case. One man who worked for JPMorgan Chase asked for parental leave when his son was born. He wanted to share the caregiving responsibilities with his wife in the early weeks and bond with his new child.
However, he was told by his employer that he could get only two weeks of paid leave as opposed to the 16 weeks available to new moms unless he could demonstrate that his wife was going back to work or was unable to care for the child. He went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a discrimination complaint.
The Dec. 2017 complaint led to a class-action lawsuit that included other male employees of the company who said they too were denied the amount of parental leave given to women. The cases in question occurred from 2011 through 2017.
This spring, JPMorgan Chase settled the lawsuit for $5 million. The settlement is a first, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the suit. The dad who started the whole thing says, "I think it sends a clear message that if a company is able to and does offer leave that it needs to be implemented equally across both genders. If Dad is able to be home with their children, as well, then both parents can share the responsibilities."
JPMorgan Chase says it has changed it's parental leave since the initial EEOC complaint was filed to give non-primary caregivers six weeks paid leave. Parents of either gender can designate themselves as a primary caregiver. An attorney for Chase says, "We are pleased to have reached an agreement in this matter and look forward to more effectively communicating the policy so that all men and women employees are aware of their benefits."
If you are planning to add a new child to your family, it's essential to find out what your employer's policy is for parental leave. If you have any concerns about the policy's fairness or legality, it may be wise to consult with an attorney.