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Chase To Pay $5 Million To Male Employees Who Allege They Were Denied Parental Leave On The Basis of Sex

6/12/2019, noon | Updated on 6/12/2019, noon

Chase To Pay $5 Million To Male Employees Who Allege They Were Denied Parental Leave On The Basis of Sex

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and Outten & Golden LLP recently announced a first-of-its-kind class action settlement with JPMorgan Chase (Chase) on behalf of male employees who allege they were unlawfully denied access to paid parental leave on the same terms as mothers from 2011 to 2017.

Under the proposed class settlement, filed recently in an Ohio federal court, Chase will continue to maintain its current gender neutral parental leave policy, which was clarified following the filing of Mr. Rotondo’s discrimination charge, train those administering the policy on its gender neutral application, and pay $5 million to fathers who claim they were denied the opportunity to take additional paid parental leave as primary caregivers.

The Chase settlement is the first class action lawsuit to settle sex discrimination claims for a class of fathers who claim they were denied the opportunity to receive equal paid parental leave given to mothers.

“I love my children, and all I wanted was to spend time with them when they were born,” said Derek Rotondo, the Chase employee who filed the sex discrimination charge that led to the class settlement. “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.”

In a class complaint filed recently along with the settlement, Mr. Rotondo alleges that when he sought to take 14 weeks of “primary caregiver” leave after his son was born, he was told by Chase’s H.R. department that mothers were presumptively considered primary caregivers, eligible for the full 16 weeks of paid parental leave, while fathers were eligible for two weeks of paid parental leave unless they could show that their spouses or partners were incapacitated or had returned to work.

In 2016, Chase increased the overall amount of paid parental leave available to its employees from 12 weeks to 16 weeks, with non-primary caregivers receiving two weeks of paid parental leave. This was far above the average paid parental leave available at most American companies. (As of mid-2018, Chase provides nonprimary caregivers with six weeks of paid parental leave.) Mr. Rotondo’s lawsuit recognizes the generosity of Chase’s parental leave policy, but insisted that the full amount of primary caregiver leave should be equally available to men and women.

“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,” said Reid Broda, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Associate General Counsel. “We thank Mr. Rotondo for bringing the matter to our attention.”

In June 2017, Mr. Rotondo filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Chase’s policies and practices constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act and state law. Shortly after the charge was filed, Chase granted Mr. Rotondo the full 16 weeks of caregiver leave, and in December 2017, Chase clarified its policy to ensure equal access to all those seeking to serve as the primary caregiver to their new child, regardless of gender.