More U.S. employers have been offering paid leave plans for new-parent employees. But in doing so, they also have had to make sure those plans treat new moms and new dads equally under the law.
JPMorgan Chase on May 30 paid $5 million to settle claims that its paid parental leave policy discriminated against male employees. The hefty payout is the latest reminder to employers to review their paid leave practices for a potential gender bias.
In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that extending unequal benefits to new parents based on gender can amount to sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In the JPMorgan Chase case, plaintiff Derek Rotondo claimed the company automatically designated biological mothers as primary caregivers eligible for 16 weeks of paid leave, and it presumed fathers to be non-primary caregivers eligible for only two weeks.
The case against JPMorgan Chase, which denied any liability in the settlement, was the first private class action to settle these types of claims. Last year the EEOC also secured a major payout over allegations that an employer extended less generous leave benefits to new dads.