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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Rachel Maddow

I wish I could be a primary care giver but all I am is a primary dyke-dyke. BTW my name is Rachel Madcow

Billy Bob Jenkins

You're a primary dumb-ass, that's for certain

Anonymous

Good, why should anyone get time off for their DNA baby. They could have adopted a kid already here, but no, instead they had a DNA baby because they are selfish. That's right, you ARE selfish! You might as well go to an orphanage, poor out the soup bowl, and tell them all to fuck off and starve! Put your kid in daytime orphanages like all the rest of working people. You don't get paid to not work! Especially for your DNA baby. Sorry orphans you ca all fuck off, I'm having a DNA baby because I'm selfish!

No hate

So much hate and so little intelligence. Do you think you are funny? Not really. Not at all.

Lila Ann Milton

Oh, dear, Anonymous. What has filled you with such rage? Also, your argument is nonsensical at best. Atany given moment there are an estimated 108,000 adoptable children in the foster care system in the US (and it's getting harder and harder to adopt internationally, so don't say there's a yawning need there-- there may be, but parents from the US are not being allowed to fill it). There are over 4 million children born in the US each year.

The selfish people are the ones who have children they cannot care for. Those children end up in foster care and the lucky ones get loving families for a period of time until they're either adopted by the foster parents or returned to their ill-equipped birth parents. Many more endure foster care conditions that are neglectful at best and cruel at worst; the majority are not eligible for adoption.

Procreating in and of itself is not selfish. I assume that you have a passel of adopted kids you've saved from the fates I described? I tip my cap to you, but not everyone is cut out to adopt, particularly an older child with special needs; which describes the majority of the 108,000. I submit that it's not selfish to know that about yourself.

Not that any of this will make any difference in your angry world-view. My hope for you is that you are able to get past the anger and alienation and live a healthy, happy life.

vani

I have active strong issues with Rachel Maddow and even I find your comment exceptionally stupid.

Rayanne Stemmler

That would seem to violate Title VII. Isn't this illegal?

Anonymous

Actually, discrimination lawsuits in general require you to belong to a protected class, and being a white, heterosexual cis-gendered man doesn't fall into any protected class. That's why it's legal to pay a man less for the same job as a woman, but illegal to pay a woman less for the same job as a man. Being a woman is a protected class, being a man is not. So, unfortunately, unless he can find some sort of protected class he does belong to, this is probably going to go nowhere no matter how much money and legal time the ACLU throws at it.

To give you an example, I worked in a textbook case of a hostile work environment. When I did something wrong, I was publicly humiliated for it. I actually had my manager spend 5 minutes straight actually screaming at me as a punishment for not getting someone else's job done in addition to mine. After I spoke out about it, I got the first poor performance review I had ever gotten from the company I had worked for for over 4 years. And it wasn't just poor, it was about as poor a review as I could get.

So, I quit and tried to get unemployment since I quit for a valid reason, a hostile work environment. That was when I was told that I can't claim a hostile work environment because that has to be based on discrimination and I don't belong to any protected class, being a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered man. I had to go to court to fight it and only won the case due to the fact that I do, in fact, belong to a protected class due to being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, so I'm disabled, and after speaking with my doctor he agreed that it was actually dangerous for me to continue working in such a high-stress and demeaning environment with my history of panic attacks and suicidal tendencies. Once I brought the doctor's note in, the case was over. But had I not been disabled, I would have been screwed.

Krissy

It's a more generous leave policy than they're required to give, but yes it does seem like it would violate title VII to me (a non-lawyer) if it's true that he would have received it automatically if he were a woman. To anonymous- Definitely Not true that it is legal to pay men less than women for equal work but not vice-versa. The equal pay act of 1963 protects both genders and in fact uses entirely gender neutral language. No truth to that whatsoever.

Law Prof

Gender (not the female gender exclusively) is the protected class. One need not be a woman to make an argument about discrimination on the basis of gender. Indeed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the decision to bring cases with male plaintiffs to develop equal protection law. So for example, teenage boys sued for the right to buy beer at the same age that teenage girls did. So not surprisingly, given that the ACLU is filing the lawsuit, there is a cause of action for gender discrimination, contrary to Anonymous's comments.

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