Jennifer Melendez and Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.
More fathers are fighting with their employers for the ability to be as present in their children’s lives as their children’s mothers, demanding parental leave benefits. On September 16, 2015, Josh Levs, a former CNN reporter, settled his sex discrimination claim with Time Warner Cable’s CNN and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. During Levs’ employment, Time Warner Cable’s policy provided all women who gave birth, as well as both parents who adopted infant children, ten weeks of paid leave; however, biological fathers were only afforded two weeks of paid parental leave.
In October 2013, Levs’ third child was born five weeks premature. To share in the caregiving responsibilites for his newborn, Levs requested an extension of paid time off, which CNN refused to grant. In response, Levs filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that Time Warner Cable’s paid-time-off policy discriminated against biological fathers.
On October 30, 2013, Levs wrote a statement, on his blog, affirming why he filed an EEOC charge against Time Warner Cable, stating:
Under Time Warner rules, I have only two choices: stay out for 10 weeks without pay, or return to work and hire someone to come to our home each day. Neither is financailly tenable, and the fact that only biological dads face this choice at this point in a newborn’s life is ludicrous.
Following Levs’ efforts, Time Warner Cable changed its policy. The new policy offers six weeks of paid caregiving leave to all new parents.
In an action similar to Levs’ case, in 2007, the Transportation Department settled a complaint with an air traffic controller, Gary M. Ehrhard, who claimed that the agency denied him multiple days of child care leave that it granted to women. Keller Benefit Services stated:
A parental leave policy for the purpose of caring for or bonding with a new child is only not discriminatory if all new parents are eligible, including birth mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and other non-birth parents.
Equal paternity leave also may benefit working mothers by lessening the wage gap between men and women. Liza Mundy, director of the Breadwinning and Caregiving program at New America, states:
Paternity leaves reset the division of labor in the households, gives men a chance to get involved very early on in a way that often becomes permanent, and actually frees up women to work more. It also can spread the stigma around so that women don’t get singled out for being the potential problem hires or problem employees. If everybody – male or female-is asking for leave or taking leave that they already qualify for, I think it just levels the playing field for how men or women are looked at in the office.
If you feel you have been discriminated against based on your sex or pregnancy, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.