Paid Family Leave: Not Just for Mothers

October 26, 2015

Every country in the world except the U.S. and Papua New Guinea offer some form of paid family leave. With increasing coverage, paid family leave is becoming a critical national issue – and it doesn’t just apply to women.

Last month, CNN and Turner Broadcasting settled with former CNN correspondent, Josh Levs. Mr. Levs filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013 claiming that his employer’s paid parental leave policy discriminated against biological fathers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. Levs had filed an Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) based upon CNN’s offering him only two weeks of paid leave to biological fathers compared to ten weeks of paid leave to biological mothers and parents of either gender who adopted children or relied on surrogates. Levs requested additional paid time off on par with his employer’s maternity leave policy, which was denied. Levs then filed his EEOC Charge.

Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, Mr. Levs confirmed that CNN/Turner will provide additional paid time off to himself as well as some additional biological fathers.

Mr. Levs’ case is not atypical. Many employers have unequal maternity and paternity plans. In a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management it was found that only 17% of companies offered paid paternity leave compared with 21% who offered paid maternity leave.

PCW’s A. Lee Parks, provided the following statement:

When you’re dealing with Paternity Leave policies, the current thinking is that there needs to be equity between what you give a father and a mother. There can be some disparity, but the disparity here is too great. Giving a mother 10 weeks and a father two weeks is gender-based and violates Title VII. The fact that adoptive fathers, or those who have children through surrogacy, get more time doesn’t help the policy – it further erodes the legality of it. It’s evidence that substantiates the irrationality of the policy.

These cases take all different forms including gender discrimination, retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and even a hostile work environment. If you believe your employer has discriminated or retaliated against you based upon your maternity or paternity leave call the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, P.C. to receive a consultation today at 404-873-8048.

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