Even today some women struggle to ask for the full twelve weeks allowed for maternity leave by law, even though it is well within a parent’s right to take it. But what about paternity leave? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 guarantees a father the right to take off the same twelve weeks, just like a mother. Male or female, the time is unpaid. Even in 2019, the right to paternity leave is a contentious topic.
JPMorgan Chase failed to adhere to its own policies, which state that primary caregivers are entitled to sixteen weeks of paid leave, which is a step above that which federal law requires.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speaking on behalf of Chase employee Derek Rotondo, the bank denied him the paid paternity leave because he was a man. The bank allegedly told Rotondo that he did not qualify for the paid leave because a man could not be the primary caregiver.
The ACLU hit Chase with a suit based on illegal sexual discrimination. In addition, the ACLU turned to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to file charges against the bank.
Because it’s 2019, a $5 million settlement was reached. According to Chase, its policies were supposed to be gender neutral, but something went wrong during translation. Whoops. The bank reversed its previous decision to deny Rotondo leave, instead providing him with the full sixteen weeks of paid paternity leave in accordance with its own policies and the law.
Although Chase at no point admitted to liability for the amount reached in the settlement, it did thank Rotondo for “bringing the matter” to its attention.
The amount of the settlement will go toward repaying those who have failed to find equality in the implementation of the company’s policies.
Other banks have similar policies, although some are still playing catchup: Citigroup, for instance, offers the same sixteen weeks of paid leave only to mothers. Wells Fargo maintains a gender-neutral policy providing employees with 16 weeks of leave for whichever parent is the primary caregiver. Bank of America’s policy is one of the most progressive, offering all parents (even adoptive parents) 16 weeks of paid leave, and an additional ten weeks of unpaid leave.
While gender roles are starting to become more blurred, many still seem to believe that raising a child is a woman’s work. Such beliefs are difficult to change.