Faulty Parental Leave Policy Results in $5M Liability

Key Takeaways:

  • Employers should ensure that their parental leave policies provide gender-neutral benefits and are applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • Now is a great time to review your handbook for legal landmines.

Recently, JPMorgan Chase reached a proposed settlement agreement in which they would pay a historic 5 million dollars to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging their paid parental leave policy discriminated against men.

In anticipation of his second child’s birth, a male employee requested 16 weeks of paid parental leave pursuant to JP Morgan’s policy designated for “primary” caregivers. His request was denied. The employee claimed that he was told male employees could only qualify as a primary caregiver if their partner had returned to work or the mother was medically incapable of caring for the child. He brought a class-action lawsuit, on behalf of himself and other men who had been subject to the parental leave policy, alleging gender discrimination under Title VII.

This case should alert all employers to the danger of seemingly gender-neutral policies that are actually applied in a discriminatory manner. Having gender-neutral language is simply not enough. Employers should review their current parental leave policies and properly train their staff on applying gender-neutral parental leave policies in a non-discriminatory manner.

Contact info: Meredith S. Campbell Chair, Employment and Labor Group, Shulman Rogers [email protected] | T 301.255.0550 | F 301.230.2891