Father’s Day is a day traditionally devoted to honoring fathers.
Over the decades, the role of fathers has changed. Today’s fathers are typically actively involved in the rearing of their children. As such, fathers are often faced with balancing their child rearing obligations with the responsibilities of their job.
Both federal and state laws, which bar discrimination based on gender, can help fathers navigate and balance their roles. Recently, a federal government agency charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, the EEOC, affirmed its commitment in ensuring that benefits are gender neutral. On February 27, 2018, the EEOC announced that it had reached a settlement against Estee Lauder Companies. The underlying lawsuit alleged that the Estee Lauder Companies discriminated against men by granting more generous parental leave policies to women. Some benefits that can help fathers balance their roles as fathers and employees are:
- Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). FMLA is a federal law which is gender neutral. It permits employees up to twelve work weeks of unpaid, job protected leave so long as the employee has been employed by the employer for at least twelve months and has worked at least 1,250 hours over the past twelve months. In order to qualify, the employer must employ 50 or more employees. FMLA requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave. FMLA can be requested for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and care of a newborn child of an employee;
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition or
- To take medical leave when an employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
- Parental Leave Policy. Many employers provide for a leave policy with the birth of a newborn, through adoption or surrogacy. Because of federal and state discrimination laws, the leave policy should be gender neutral. In other words, if a mother is afforded ten weeks leave, a father should have the right to take the same ten weeks of leave. Please note that employers are permitted to provide women with additional leave specifically for the period that a mother is incapacitated because of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.
- Flexible Work Hours. Some employers permit employees to work flexible hours so that their employees are able to attend school functions or take their child to medical appointments. An employer’s policy on this issue should be gender neutral. In other words, the flexible work policy cannot be limited to mothers.
If you have any questions, or are concerned that because of your gender, you are being treated differently at your place of employment, it is best to first consult with the Director of Human Resources. You should follow your company’s policies and procedures in reporting your claim of discrimination. If a satisfactory result is not reached with your employer, you may have a basis to sue your company under federal and state law. It is best to consult with an attorney to ensure that you comply with any administrative filings that may be required before you can proceed with the lawsuit.
heARTbeat is a publication of KingSpry’s Adoption Law and Assisted Reproductive Technology Law Practice Group. It is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.