More Companies Facing Paternity Leave Suits

Date: September 16, 2015

Range Of Cases Over Past Few Years Highlights Growing Pressure For Paid Leave

As debate over paid leave continues nationwide, the New York Times profiles a rise in worker claims against employers due to paternity leave policies. In a recent high-profile example, CNN and Turner Broadcasting settled a suit under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from a former CNN correspondent, Josh Levs, who noted that when his daughter was born in October 2013 the company “offered 10 weeks of paid leave to biological mothers” or to “parents of either gender who adopted children or relied on surrogates,” but “two weeks of paid leave” for “biological fathers.” Levs sued when he was unable to receive more than the two weeks off. Though he couldn’t disclose the terms of the settlement, Levs “confirms that CNN and Turner Broadcasting will provide additional paid time off to some other biological fathers who took paternity leave before January 2015.” The company’s new policy, which began in January, allows six weeks paid leave to all new parents, but allows biological mothers an additional six weeks, and more if medically necessary. The Times notes that Levs’ case is just one of “a recent string” involving suits of fathers against employers. The Dechert law firm, for example, in 2013 settled such a case brought by a former lawyer at the firm who alleged retaliation from supervisors after he took leave as stipulated by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 2008. The Transportation Department settled its own complaint in 2013 from an air traffic controller, the Times notes, suggesting a “societal shift” may be underway that involves fathers “working less and spending more time with their children.”

What This means For Small Businesses

Small business owners want to provide fair leave time for new parents. The recent move in suits against employers by fathers as well as mothers indicates the growing pressure businesses face to provide paid benefits. Small businesses may protect themselves from potential litigation by ensuring leave policies that don’t discriminate based on gender, but the issue of paid maternity and paternity leave is likely to remain key for small businesses over the short- to mid-term.

Additional Reading

NFIB recently noted how some small business owners are navigating family leave issues.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

Related Content: Small Business News | Paid Leave

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