Why it matters

In a new charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employee of J.P. Morgan Chase & Company (JPMC) alleged his employer engages in discrimination in violation of Title VII by denying fathers paid parental leave on the same terms as mothers. The complainant—a fraud investigator with two young children—began working for the company in 2010. He claimed that JPMC designates biological mothers as the default primary caregivers, making them eligible for 16 weeks of paid parental leave, while presumptively considering fathers to be nonprimary caregivers and eligible for only two weeks of paid parental leave. This sex-based stereotyping violates federal and state law, the employee alleged. “When I found out how J.P. Morgan’s parental leave policy was actually implemented, I was shocked,” the complainant said in a press release about his charge. “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 and show its support for all parents who work for the company.” Filed on behalf of all fathers who were or will be subject to the same allegedly discriminatory policy, the charge requests an investigation into all the claims on a classwide basis, as well as injunctive relief and monetary damages.

Detailed discussion

Derek Rotondo began working for J.P. Morgan Chase & Company (JPMC) in 2010, holding several different positions over the years as a fraud investigator. During his tenure, he had two children with his wife: one born in May 2015 and a second born in June 2017. Although he was eligible for and took paid parental leave under his employer’s policies, “I have been limited in the amount of paid parental leave I have been eligible to take because of my sex,” he told the EEOC in his charge of discrimination.

Rotondo alleged that JPMC runs afoul of both state law and Title VII with its policy of presumptively treating and qualifying biological mothers as primary caregivers automatically eligible for 16 weeks of paid parental leave and presumptively treating fathers as nonprimary caregivers eligible for only two weeks of leave.

Fathers may be treated as primary caregivers if they demonstrate either that their spouse or domestic partner has returned to work or that they are the spouse or domestic partner of a mother who is medically incapable of any care of the child. Mothers who work for the company are not required to make such a showing, Rotondo said.

The complainant told the EEOC that he did not qualify for either exception when his child was born in June because his wife was recovering well from childbirth and, as a teacher who had the summer off, had not yet gone back to work. “I would prefer to be the primary caregiver for my son and take the full 16 weeks of paid time off, until September 26, 2017,” he wrote. “But because of JPMC’s discriminatory and unlawful policy, I have not been approved to be the primary caregiver, and I am only eligible to take paid parental leave until June 21, 2017.”

Rotondo instead planned to take additional weeks of leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act to extend his time with his new child, using accrued paid time off in order to continue receiving pay during that leave.

JPMC’s pattern, practice or policy “constitutes a sex-based classification that treats biological fathers in a manner that, but for their sex, would be different, and therefore violates federal and state law,” the complainant wrote. “JPMC’s pattern, practice, or policy … also relies upon and enforces a sex-based stereotype that women are and should be caretakers of children, and that women do and should remain at home to care for a child following the child’s birth, while men are not and should not be caretakers and instead do and should return to work shortly after the birth of a child. This sex-based stereotyping violates federal and state law.”

Rotondo requested “all injunctive, equitable, legal, and/or monetary relief or damages for me and other fathers” in the United States who currently work or previously worked for JPMC, asking that the EEOC investigate all his claims on a classwide basis.

To read the charge, click here.