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Banking giant JPMorgan Chase today settled a class action suit regarding its parental leave policy. It involved claims the bank offered more time off to women than men. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the bank is paying $5 million to fathers who were shortchanged.
YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Two years ago, Derek Rotondo's wife was about to give birth to their second son. He told his employer, JPMorgan, he wished to take the maximum 16 weeks of paid leave available under the company's policy. He wanted to bond with his new baby. That's when they told him he didn't qualify.
DEREK ROTONDO: Men, as biological fathers, were presumptively not the primary caregiver.
NOGUCHI: So Rotondo only got two weeks off. Soon after, Rotondo, a financial crimes investigator, filed a complaint alleging gender discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The bank quickly offered him the leave he requested. Settling the case took a bit longer. Rotondo and his attorneys say the policy changed.
JPMorgan disputes this. It says its policy has always been gender-neutral but that it clarified that language. It will also pay $5 million to hundreds or possibly thousands of men who were denied leave over a seven-year span. Rotondo says he's happy he brought the case.
ROTONDO: So that we can get rid of some of these stereotypes where it's the woman's job to have babies and cook and man's to get back to work and pay the bills. That doesn't work for everyone. It's not the century that we live in.
NOGUCHI: Parental leave is not required under federal law, only 40% of employers offer it. But support is rapidly shifting - socially, politically and among employers. High-profile dads from former NBA star Dwyane Wade to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been outspoken about taking paternity leave.
Rotondo's is the latest of several similar actions brought by fathers in recent years. Other cases prompted Estee Lauder and Time Warner to change their policies to give men an equal amount of time off. Peter Romer-Friedman is an attorney who represented Rotondo along with the American Civil Liberties Union.
PETER ROMER-FRIEDMAN: The Supreme Court has made very clear that parental leave for caregiving has to be given on the exact same equal term.
NOGUCHI: Derek Rotondo says the extra time helped create a strong bond with his son, and he learned new skills.
ROTONDO: I can change a diaper while a kid is standing up in under 30 seconds.
NOGUCHI: The value of that is something any parent can appreciate. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.
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