Dad sues J.P Morgan for equal paternity leave, seeking respect for dads as caregivers

Derek Rotondo, a J.P. Morgan Chase employee, today filed a federal complaint for 16 weeks of paternity leave, seeking to prove that dads can be caregivers for their children as much as moms can.

Rotondo filed the lawsuit against his company with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that biological mothers automatically get 16 weeks of paid leave, while fathers get only two weeks unless they prove they are a baby’s primary caregivers.

[pullquote]Just because I’m a father, not a mother, it shouldn’t prevent me from being the primary caregiver for my baby.[/pullquote]

Rotondo, a father with a newborn, wanted to take the full paid leave his employer offered, but he said he was not considered a primary caregiver by human resources. At J.P. Morgan, dads are only considered primary caregivers if the partner is working, or if the birth mother is medically unable to take care of the child, according to the complaint. Meanwhile, biological mothers of new babies at the bank do not have to provide proof that they are the primary caregiver. Adopting parents and same-sex and domestic partners at the company are also under the primary caregiver constraint.

Because his wife, a teacher, was in good health and was on summer break, Rotondo did not qualify for more paternity leave under the bank’s rules. The policy assumes that Rotondo would not want to be the primary caregiver if all things were going well for the mother.

“It was like something out of the 1950s.  Just because I’m a father, not a mother, it shouldn’t prevent me from being the primary caregiver for my baby. I hope that J.P. Morgan will change this policy,” Rotondo said.

“J.P. Morgan’s parental leave policy is outdated and discriminates against both moms and dads by reinforcing the stereotype that raising children is women’s work, and that men’s work is to be the breadwinner,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Galen Sherwin said in a statement. The ACLU filed the complaint on Rotondo’s behalf.

J.P Morgan said it is reviewing the charge, according to Reuters. If the EEOC finds enough cause in Rotondo’s case, the EEOC could give Rotondo authorization to sue J.P. Morgan.

Benefits of parental leave

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act gives employees 12 weeks of unpaid family leave in America, the United States does not federally mandate any paid family leave.

But there are multiple studies that prove that paid paternal leave is a benefit for all involved. When fathers take parental leave, mothers are able to rejoin the workforce more quickly. And fathers who took parental leave were more likely to be involved in their child’s life later on.

Although his employer offered some paid parental leave, Rotondo said he was doing this not only for himself, but for all fathers who wanted the same equal chance that mothers got to stay up, change diapers, and watch their child grow in their first weeks of life.