The EEOC issued its new guidance on parental leave today. In it, they lay the basis for parity between company-offered maternity and paternity leave. In short, companies that offer mothers “time for care and bonding” beyond time for physical recovery/disability must also offer that “time for care” to fathers. This decision brings needed clarity to the emerging set of case law on paternity leave (see here, here and here) and is yet another indicator of the recognition of the importance of fatherhood and paternity leave.
This guidance is part of a larger and much more comprehensive document concerning pregnancy discrimination, disability and related employment concerns. You can read the entire document here. I’ve copied the relevant information below. After that is my analysis.
A dad alleges that his employer retaliated against him by marginalizing and then firing him after he fought for his right to take the paid parental leave the company had in its policy manual. If true, this case speaks to the real struggle for working fathers- the fear of reprisal for visibly prioritizing family.
I have the best readers. The other day, an FWF reader sent me an email with a link to this story from the NY Post. Here’s a quick summary:
– Tonny Uy, a former senior accountant at asmallworld.net (a social networking site for millionaires), sought paternity leave when his and his husband’s daughter was born
– He was initially rebuffed, but he then pointed out the policy in the employee handbook
– The company then agreed to the 40 days (8 weeks) paid leave (which is quite generous compared to most policies)
– After taking leave, Uy contends he was treated differently by his supervisor, and a few months later, he was told his job was being eliminated. He was replaced with a part-time employee
– He alleges asmallworld changed their employee handbook, removing the paid leave benefit for all employees a few months after he returned from his leave (kinda like Cartman?)
A few caveats are in order- the only information I have about the suit is this article, and we are only getting Uy’s side of the story. However, if the alleged facts are indeed true, this situation is disturbing to me on two levels.
First, if the company has a policy on the books, employees shouldn’t have to fight for the right to avail themselves of that policy. From this article, It is not clear if asmallworld had only a maternity leave policy or a more general parental leave policy that covered both moms and dads. Further, if a policy is on the books, it should also extend to adoptive parents (I am assuming this is the case for Uy and his husband).
One of the things I love most about this blog is the opportunity it has given me to have conversations with so many smart, knowledgeable people. I have learned more from this blog than anyone, thanks to your comments and willingness to engage and network with me. After I posted my piece last week about Josh Levs and his important paternity leave discrimination suit, I received the following message through Linkedin from blog reader Cynthia Calvert, Esq., who is an expert in work-family employment law.
Cynthia was quoted in the NYTimes article about Levs and she believes his case to be stronger than I believed it to be in my analysis last week. After our discussion, I think she’s right. In this case, I’d be very happy to be wrong.
I found our exchange fascinating- it really helped clarify the situation for me, especially in terms of gender discrimination and the difference between parental leave for care versus physical recovery. Cynthia was nice enough to allow me to reprint our back-and-forth here. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Journalist Josh Levs has filed an EEOC charge against his employer, claiming that its parental leave policy discriminates against fathers. His public stand may help encourage needed change. Here are the details and my analysis.
Nothing fuels you to fight for what’s right like the love you have for your child.- Josh Levs
Over the past few months, I’ve written articles in which I encourage dads who have the financial and job security to bravely stand up so that men’s family needs can be discussed and addressed at their workplaces (see here and here). While I am almost certain Josh Levs did not read my posts, he certainly has taken a bold and public stand for fathers’ work-family issues.