The birth or adoption of a child is a life-changing time for parents, and while the physical burden of pregnancy and childbirth impacts women more directly and obviously, the experience and challenges of adding a new child to a family impact fathers as well.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires by law that non-exempt employers must provide up to 12 weeks of leave (typically unpaid) for parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
FMLA is an all-inclusive law, and absolutely includes the rights of fathers to take leave from work in order to care for their newborn child or newly adopted child. FMLA establishes guidelines regarding parental leave for both women and men following the birth of their child or following the adoption of a child. This leave can be taken at any time within the first year the child is born (or adopted) and does not necessarily have to be immediately after the child’s birth. Additionally, FMLA allows for a parent to take intermittent parental leave, meaning that the time they take off from work to care for their new child can be utilized quite liberally, including working part-time for a limited period.
The United States is the only developed nation with no required paid maternity leave laws. With this as a legal backdrop, it is easy to see why paternity leave is so unused and underutilized in businesses today. Even when paternity leave is offered to men, a stigma surrounds it, which ultimately discourages many men from using it. If you feel your rights as a father have been violated due to the discriminatory application of FMLA leave, you should consult a pregnancy discrimination attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected.
In July 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled a class-action lawsuit regarding disparate leave practices for male and female parents. The lawsuit alleged that as new parents, male employees were extended fewer parental leave benefits than female employees. The court determined that providing different amounts of leave for fathers versus mothers violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Ultimately, a parental leave policy established by a company that discriminates based on gender is against federal law. Some states provide even greater legal protection to both parents than the rights provided by federal law. It is important to research the laws of your state and consult an attorney if you have questions about your rights.
The American family, as well as the workplace of decades past, have changed considerably. Depending on the size of your employer and how long you have been working there, you may be entitled to paternity leave to spend time with your newborn or newly adopted child. If you feel that your paternal rights have been violated through the discrimination of your employer, our experienced and knowledgeable team is here to assist you. Contact us today for a consultation to determine if your rights have been violated and how to protect your rights moving forward.