JPMorgan Chase to Pay $5M to Settle Dads’ Parental-Leave Case

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

CINCINNATI (CN) – JPMorgan Chase agreed Thursday to pay $5 million to settle a class action brought by male employees who said the bank denied them equal paid parental leave after their children were born.

Chase employee Derek Rotondo, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys with Outten & Golden, filed both the complaint and proposed settlement Thursday in Cincinnati federal court. He says that after the birth of his children, Chase discriminated against him by limiting his paid parental leave. He had asked Chase to give him 14 weeks leave after the birth of his son.

“I love my children, and all I wanted was to spend time with them when they were born,” Rotondo said in a statement. “I’m proud that since I filed my charge, Chase has clarified its policy to ensure that both male and female employees who wish to be the primary parental caregiver have equal access to those benefits.”

Under its former policy, Chase let biological mothers take 16 weeks of paid parental leave while fathers were only eligible to take two weeks off. 

Rotondo first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017. Chase quickly clarified its policy giving him 16 weeks of leave later that same year as well as making sure that primary caregiver status was gender-neutral. 

His attorney Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said she hopes other companies follow Chase’s example.

“It’s up to the family, not the employer, to determine what their caregiving arrangements will look like. In order for women to compete on an even playing field at work, we need to be sure men can play an active role at home. American companies need to implement policies that don’t promote gender stereotypes,” Levenson said in a phone interview. 

The $5 million settlement will compensate up to 5,000 dads denied paid primary caregiver leave from 2011 to 2017 and will cover their legal fees and administrative costs. A class member with more than one child could receive compensation for multiple claims, Levenson said.  

Chase has agreed to continue its gender-neutral policy on paid parental leave and to train its employees on how to administer it. 

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in this matter and look forward to more effectively communicating the policy so that all men and women employees are aware of their benefits,” JPMorgan Chase’s counsel Reid Broda said. “We thank Mr. Rotondo for bringing the matter to our attention.”

The advocacy group Paid Family and Medical Leave for Everyone Working in the U.S. released an employer scorecard last year finding that 72% of the nation’s largest employers offer equal paid leave to both parents.

The group’s spokeswoman Meshal DeSantis said the shift represents changing attitudes toward gender roles, adding that millennial men view parenting as a central part of their identity.   

“I think it was a win for dads and a win for dads at Chase,” DeSantis said in a phone interview. “Categorizing one parent as primary and one as secondary is just not the way people think in 2019.”

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