Is Your Paternity Leave Policy Title VII Compliant?
Parental leave policies are being scrutinized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a result of an EEOC charge filed by a recently new father. In October 2013, a CNN reporter filed his claim against CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, Inc. The claim arises out of Time Warner’s parental leave policy which provides ten weeks of paid time off for women who give birth and to men and women who have infants through adoption or surrogacy. The policy, however, only provides two weeks paid time off to new biological fathers. The charge raises questions on whether such policies rise to the level of unlawful gender discrimination under Title VII. The answer to this question could very well be in the affirmative. According to the EEOC, “while employers are permitted by Title VII to provide women with leave specifically for the period that they are incapacitated because of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, employers may not treat either sex more favorably with respect to other kinds of leave, such as leave for childcare purposes.”
The EEOC has not yet issued its decision in this case. Notwithstanding, employers should heed the message raised by virtue of the claim and review their parental leave policy to determine the paid leave offered and how men and women are being treated thereunder.
Loren L. Speziale represents businesses in matters of employment law as well as other transactional matters.