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Parental Leave Gap At JP Morgan Chase Sparks Discrimination Charge

ACLU of Ohio
Derek Rotondo, an employee of JP Morgan Chase in Columbus, is filing a discrimination suit against the company.

When Derek Rotondo's wife became pregnant last year, he started looking into parental leave options at JPMorgan Chase in Columbus, where he's an associate investigator. But Rotondo says he was denied leave as a primary caregiver.

According to Rotondo, JPMorgan Chase said that designation went to birthmothers by default. Rotondo apparently wasn't eligible for either of the company's two exceptions. 

That was a big deal to Rotondo and his family: primary caregivers get 16 weeks of paid parental leave, while non-primary caretakers get just two.

"The complaint for me is two-fold," Rotondo says. "Our policy pretty clearly discriminates against biological fathers, I think. But two, the underlying thinking that led to the way the policy is written and implemented that seems to be a little outdated, with the idea that it's a woman's job to stay home with the kids, change the diapers, all that stuff."

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Ohio and employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP agreed with him. On Thursday, the organizations - on Rotondo's behalf - filed a discrimination charge against JPMorgan Chase with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

And while the win would be big for JPMorgan Chase employees like Rotondo, ACLU of Ohio legal director Freda Levenson says it would have broader implications across the U.S.

"If this lawsuit is successful, JPMorgan Chase will be required to revise its policy to treat fathers and mothers the same," Levenson says. "And this would send a signal to other employers large and small throughout the country that they may not discriminate in their parental leave policy either."

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.