How U.S. Employers Fail Dads

When it comes to gender discrimination in the workplace, much of the burden falls on women. They're the likely candidates to fall victim to sexual harassment, to have to scramble for a clean and private space to pump breast milk, and have to deal with the fact that they're way too frequently paid less than their male colleagues with similar responsibilities. But men can face some pretty formidable struggles, too — especially when they're in the process of growing their families. In fact, U.S. employers are failing dads in one crucial way: All too often, they're offered waaay less paid parental leave than women are, and that's only if they have access to paid leave at all.

Of course, many, many American workers (114 million, to be exact) can't get any paid time off work when they welcome a child into their families, as the United States is the only wealthy country that doesn't have a federally mandated paid parental leave policy. And a recently published study has found that many employers that do offer paid parental leave favor news moms over new dads big-time. According to the worker advocacy group Paid Leave for the United States, only 10 of the 44 "top companies" surveyed ensured equity for men and women when it came to paid time off work when a new baby arrives.

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Let's quickly recognize them and give them a round of applause, because each of these companies is an example of how employers should treat their employees: Bank of America, Citigroup, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Hilton, Ikea, Levi’s, Nordstrom, Target, and Verizon Communications. But it's pretty much all downhill from there, because 17 of the other companies surveyed totally excluded dads and adoptive parents from taking advantage of their paid leave policies, and another seven offer fathers and adoptive parents eight or more fewer weeks than new mothers.

As Slate's Christina Cauterucci pointed out, part of the reasoning for this unacceptable disparity is that the time off moms get is often associated with disability insurance after they give birth. And this is some insane B.S., as it can put male same-sex couples and adoptive parents at a huge disadvantage and totally erases their experiences and unnecessarily challenges their validity as parents.

The corporate world's propensity to shortchange dads when it come to paid parental leave is bad for heterosexual couples, too. It can deny dads the opportunity to help out with child-rearing, even though doing so can have long-term positive effects on their capabilities as parents, as well as increase their female partners' earning potential. It also assumes that moms are the default caregivers to children, a position with which President Donald Trump certainly agrees, and it also perpetuates harmful, oppressive gender stereotypes.

It's a system against which J.P. Morgan employee Derek Rotondo is fighting back. The Ohio fraud investigator is involved in a discrimination charge against his employer after he found out that he reportedly can take only two weeks of paid time off after the birth of his second child, while moms in his position have access to a full four months. The only way he could get an exception is if he were to prove that his spouse or domestic partner "has returned to work... [or] is medically incapable of any care of the child," NBC News reported. Simply put, the company for which he works appears to consider women the default caregivers to children. Because Rotondo's wife is a healthy teacher on her summer vacation, his employer allegedly told him he was out of luck.

Here's what he had to say in a statement to the American Civil Liberties Unions, which filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on his behalf, along with the employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP:

When I found out how J.P. Morgan's parental leave policy was actually implemented, I was shocked. 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.

Romper reached out to J.P. Morgan for comment, and had not yet heard back.

For now, employers should perhaps more carefully consider how they treat their employees in terms of paid parental leave. Not only does expanding the benefit to male workers have a healthy impact on the workforce, it's about time that society in general started treating people equally anyway.