I Want to Be My Child’s Primary Caregiver, but My Employer J.P. Morgan Chase Treats That as a Woman’s Job

Last week, my wife and I were overjoyed to welcome our second child into this world. Our older son is 2, and our baby son is just nine days old. Being a dad is my crowning achievement in life. I treasure taking our older son to play in the creek near our house, being in the water with him at swim lessons, and putting him to bed at night. I love watching him learn to talk and develop his own language that only my wife and I can understand. And my years in the United States Navy have turned out to be excellent training for the sleep deprivation that comes along with raising two young kids.

I’ve worked for J.P. Morgan Chase since 2010. As the due date for our second child approached, I reached out to J.P. Morgan’s Human Resources Department to request parental leave. J.P. Morgan gives “primary caregivers” 16 weeks of paid parental leave, while “secondary caregivers” get only two weeks. I explained that I wanted to be the primary caregiver for my baby son.

I was shocked by the response: J.P. Morgan said that only mothers are automatically considered to be primary caregivers. The company then said that if I wanted additional paid leave as a father, I would have to show that either my wife had returned to work — which is not possible in our case, as my wife is a special education teacher currently on summer break — or that the child’s mother was “medically incapable of providing any care for the child.”

In 2017, employers should not dictate the parental roles of their employees along gender lines.

J.P. Morgan’s policy effectively forces families to treat mothers as the primary caregiver, except in exceptional circumstances. That’s not the right choice for me and my family.

Like many other fathers, I want to have the time to bond with my baby son during his first few months. I want to rest him on my chest for skin-to-skin contact time and to see his first smile. I want to be there beyond the first couple of weeks so that I can continue changing diapers and cooking family dinners.

My idea of how to be a dad has evolved from how my parents’ generation approached child rearing. My father provided for his children, but he wasn’t around for the everyday moments when I was growing up. My first priority as a dad is to always be around for my kids. I don’t want to miss that moment when our son takes his first steps or the baseball games down the road. And my outlook is not unique. In modern America, fathers want to play a significant role in caring for their children. Working families like mine want corporate policies that strike a fair balance between work and family.

J.P. Morgan’s parental leave policy is outdated and discriminates against fathers who want a meaningful amount of time off to be at home with their kids — just like mothers who work for the company. The policy also discriminates against both moms and dads by enforcing two related stereotypes: that raising children is women’s work and that only men should return to work immediately after their children are born. This doesn’t even begin to address how same-sex and adoptive parents fit into the equation. What would a two-dad family do under J.P. Morgan’s policy, for example?

Today, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and the employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP, I filed a sex discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I’m filing this charge for the benefit of my family and all the other families who have been, or will be, harmed by J.P. Morgan’s discriminatory policy. I’m asking the company to make its parental leave policy fair, equitable, and lawful so that all parents, regardless of their sex, can take the time they need to bond with their kids.

In 2017, employers should not dictate the parental roles of their employees along gender lines. It’s time to move forward with paid parental leave policies that recognize and support today’s working families — as an industry and as a country.

If you would like to get involved in state or local advocacy for paid family leave, let us know. If your employer provides unequal amounts of leave for different types of parents, we want to hear from you—please fill out our survey.

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cityzen

Anonymous you are 100% wrong. There are no protected classes of PEOPLE, classes refer to groups of people who share certain characteristics which are race, age, national origin, religion, and sex. It is 100% illegal to pay a man less, or to discriminate this way. This is why race-based admissions in colleges have been rolled back.

Equal Pay Act of 1963

"No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex"

God how I hate people that just make stuff up without knowing what they are talking about.

Debi

My son feels much the same. I am thrilled to hear others are like he is.

PS) The Troll using Maddow's name should be ashamed of himself.

Anonymous

Uh, how do you know the so called "troll" is a he?

J.M.

And what about the women who work for JP Morgan Chase who want to be primary breadwinners for their families, but their employer consistently pays them less than their male counterparts? Perhaps when the gender-based pay gap is closed we can pursue your issue.

Anonymous

Your comment is pretty disgusting on a number of levels, J.M.

Cindy Saunders

I agree with you. There are so many issues that are unfair to women. I'm having a hard time feeling for this white man

city zen

There are one and the same issue, not two different ones.

The discrimination against this man injures his wife as well. And is based on sexism towards women as well.

Google intersectionality.

Becky Monahan

I disagree. There are many physical, hormonal and emotional changes that happen in the weeks and months after a woman gives birth. This time off is crucial for recovery and bonding. I'm glad that you feel strongly about parenting your child but this time off is not what it should be used for.

Anonymous

I agree with you, it's a perk that his employer offers, not a right, and definitely a woman who birthed a child needs that time more than the father does. I'm all for equality, but there just isn't a way of making child-birth a completely equal situation unfortunately. Women's bodies just need the time off. I could be wrong, but it seems like their leave policy is to allow one parent to be home with the child for their first few months, and since the mom will be home, they probably feel that he's trying to take advantage of the situation by having them both home for that entire time. Although it is arguably better for mama and baby to have the extra help around and for dad to get time to bond.

Law Prof

Same sex male parents and women who have adopted are eligible for this leave, presumably. No physical, hormonal or emotional changes there. There is no requirement (nor could there be) that the parent have physically given birth to be a parent. Sorry, Becky, but your argument is not consistent with the structure of this leave or the policy itself, which mentions work-life balance and mental health as reasons for granting the leave.

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