JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $5 million to resolve a discrimination claim filed by a male employee who alleged the bank’s parental leave policy was biased against dads.
The payout resolves a 2017 complaint brought by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging bias against Derek Rotondo, who had applied unsuccessfully for the 16-week parental leave benefit available to employees who are the “primary caregiver” of a new kid. JPMorgan doesn’t admit liability in the settlement.
It’s the biggest recorded settlement in a U.S. parental leave discrimination case, according to Rotondo’s attorneys, and the most high-profile warning to companies with policies that are gender-neutral on paper but not in practice.
“Parents need to be treated with equality,” said Rotondo, who investigates financial crimes for the bank. “There can’t be an assumption that just because someone is a new mom, she’s going to be doing all the work, and that dads just need to be quiet and get back in the office.”
In the complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Rotondo said the company told him it started from the presumption that a child’s birth mother was the primary caregiver. And because his wife, a teacher, wasn’t incapacitated and had the summer off, he couldn’t qualify.
Rotondo claimed that the bank’s policy “relies on and enforces sex-based stereotypes” and violates the federal prohibition on workplace sex discrimination.
In 2015, the EEOC distinguished between postpartum medical leave, which the agency said could be “limited to women affected,” and leave for bonding with and caring for a new child, which had to be provided equally to men and women.