For couples in California and elsewhere around the country, becoming a parent is a major life event. While celebrating a birth or adoption and adjusting to life with a newborn, working parents have to concern themselves with leave policies at their places of employment. While companies have always varied widely on the amount of leave provided, societal changes have now sparked debate on how policies are actually administered. In fact, accusations of employment discrimination are occurring more frequently as traditional stereotypes of caregiving are challenged.
Over the years, most companies came to acknowledge both maternity and paternity leaves. However, longer periods of paid time off were granted to mothers than to fathers. As roles in the family have changed over time, many businesses now offer paid parental leave. Yet, there may still be different amounts of leave offered to primary versus non-primary caregivers.
Despite the positive changes to many leave policies, there are still challenges being made. In many families when both parents work outside the home, primary caregiving is shared. Cases have recently arisen that content that companies' leave policies discriminated against men when mothers were assumed to be the primary caregivers. JP Morgan and Estee Lauder have both come under fire with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for their handling of parental leave.
Companies must also consider how the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) affects their policies, if applicable. It is important for businesses not to make assumptions based on stereotypical or traditional family roles. Certainly, any leave policies should not discriminate against any protected group.
If employment discrimination in the workplace is suspected, it would be wise to contact a California employment law attorney for assistance. A knowledgeable lawyer will review the situation thoroughly and recommend an appropriate course of action against an employer. A successful claim against a company could result in a monetary award to a client that would compensate for lost wages or emotional distress.