Are Men Primary Caregivers? Dads at Big Bank Sue for Equal Paternity Leave

Male and female employees at JPMorgan Chase now have equal 16-week or 4-month paid parental leave after the birth of a child thanks to a complaint filed by employee Derek Rotondo. After the birth of Rotondo’s son he applied for 16 weeks of paid leave granted to primary caregivers. But he was denied and told that, “Men, as biological fathers, were presumptively not the primary caregiver.” He was then given only two weeks’ paid leave.

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In 2017 Rotondo filed a complaint at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging gender discrimination at JPMorgan Chase. JPMorgan Chase granted him the extra leave he wanted.

Rotondo’s complaint spawned a class-action settlement where JPMorgan Chase will pay $5 million to male employees who were denied primary caregiver leave in the last seven years. It has also changed its parental leave policy so that now fathers will also receive 4 months paid parental leave.

According to a Boston College study, nearly 90 percent of men today view access to paid paternity leave as an important condition of employment. Some companies are also expanding parents leave benefits in response to pressure from local governments. In 2016, New York State enacted the most generous paid leave mandate in the country, which today entitles mothers and fathers to eight weeks of paid leave to bond with a newborn or recently adopted child. San Francisco now requires that businesses with 20 or more employees offer six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents. Congress is also debating nation-wide federal parental leave bills.

Companies that offer paid leave as generous as JPMorgan Chase remain a rarity in the U.S. U.S. federal law does not require paid parental leave of any amount. While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act mandates that companies with more than 50 employees provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, it does not require paid leave.

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What do you think? Should fathers have equal parental leave as mothers? Should the government have a role in mandating what leave policies companies offer to their employees?