JPMorgan Chase to Pay $5 Million to Settle Fathers' Paid Parental Leave Discrimination Claim

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 5, 2019

JP Morgan Chase Bank has reached a proposed agreement to settle claims that its paid parental leave policy discriminated against fathers. Chase will pay $5 million in the ACLU-led class action to male employees who allege that from 2011 to 2017 they were unlawfully denied paid parental leave on the same terms as mothers. The proposed agreement must still be approved by the court.

Parental leave, which is used to provide bonding time or care for a newborn or newly-placed adopted or foster child, differs from maternity leave provided to women for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.

Chase's paid parental leave policy first offered primary caregivers 12 weeks of paid parental leave while providing non-primary caregivers only one week of paid parental leave. In 2016, Chase increased the amount of paid parental leave provided to primary caregivers to 16 weeks, and for non-primary caregivers to two weeks.

Chase employee Derek Rotondo claimed the company wrongfully denied him the opportunity to receive equal paid parental leave given to mothers after his two children were born. In response to his request for 14 weeks leave, Chase told Rotondo that biological mothers were presumptively treated as primary caregivers who are eligible for the 16 weeks of paid parental leave. Fathers were presumed to be non-primary caregivers only eligible for two weeks of leave unless they were able to show that:

  • Their spouse or domestic partner who was the mother had returned to work; or
  • Their spouse or domestic partner who was the mother was medically incapable of caring for the child. The father also would be required to provide medical documentation of the mother's incapacity.

Rotondo filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in June 2017 and received a right-to-sue letter in February 2019. The class action, filed concurrently with the settlement agreement, includes male Chase employees who took the maximum amount of non-primary caregiver leave between 2011 and 2017, and who claim they were denied the opportunity to take additional paid parental leave as primary caregivers.

In December 2017, Chase changed its paid parental leave policy by removing gender-specific language and making clear that fathers and mothers were equally eligible to be designated as primary caregivers. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Chase will not change the policy unless a more generous policy is adopted.

In addition to creating a $5 million fund to pay claims, Chase also must provide training to all managers, human resources personnel and any third-party contractors employed to administer employee benefits policies to ensure that they are implemented in a gender-neutral manner.

In 2018, Estee Lauder reached a similar agreement with the EEOC to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that its parental leave policy discriminated against new fathers. The company gave new mothers six weeks of paid leave for child bonding while new fathers only received two weeks of paid leave.