In September, CNN parent company Time Warner Inc. settled a suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over a charge its parental leave policy allowed more paid time off for birth mothers than biological fathers. The case serves as a reminder that all employers in Maryland and nationwide should review their parental leave policies to ensure they do not discriminate against fathers.
Before the lawsuit, Time Warner provided birth mothers with 10 weeks of paid leave after childbirth. It also allowed parents of both genders 10 weeks off after they adopted a child. Meanwhile, the company only provided biological fathers with two weeks of paid leave. In 2013, a CNN employee filed a discrimination claim when he was denied more time off following the premature birth of his daughter.
The terms of Time Warner’s settlement with the EEOC were not released. However, Time Warner reportedly voluntarily changed its parental leave policy to provide all parents with six weeks of paid leave following childbirth or adoption. Birth mothers are also now allowed to take paid short-term disability leave.
There has been a tremendous shift in attitudes regarding the role of fathers at home and in the workplace over the last few years. As a result, men are increasingly demanding that employers recognize their legal rights as fathers. To avoid discrimination lawsuits, employers are encouraged to examine their parental leave policies to ensure that mothers are not given favorable treatment over fathers.
Maryland employees who believe they have been the victim of workplace discrimination may benefit by speaking with an attorney. After reviewing the details of the case, the attorney may find it advisable to file a claim on behalf of the client with the EEOC or the applicable state agency.