Pregnancy discrimination continues to be an issue in employment law. However, what companies may not realize is this hot topic is one that increasingly involves men.
A former tax-planning manager at Twentieth Century Fox, Brian Jun, is suing Fox, claiming that his supervisor reacted negatively when Jun said he needed reasonable accommodation under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act. Jun claimed that after returning from his leave, Fox retaliated against him, resulting in his termination. In March of 2015, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued Jun a right to sue notice. He is alleging FMLA and retaliation claims as well as pregnancy discrimination.
Fox has denied the allegations and argues Jun should have exhausted administrative remedies. The studio also asserts that it took steps to prevent workplace discrimination and retaliation, and the actions taken against Jun were not related to his taking paternity leave under the FMLA.
Employers and employees should be aware of new fathers’ rights to take a leave of absence. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), workers with caregiving responsibilities should not be discriminated against. Doing so violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if the discrimination is based on a family member’s disability. In addition, the FMLA allows eligible employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of an employee’s newborn child. This applies to men as well as women.
Some company policies offer generous financial support for new parents, but federal law does not require that new mothers or fathers have paid leave available to them. It does, however, require that new parents be treated equally with other employees. Their ability to keep their jobs and their prospects for promotion should not suffer due to taking maternity or paternity leave.
Because leave under these federal laws is unpaid, many workers use as many sick days as possible so they can still be paid during their leave. If they do not have many sick days accumulated, maternity or paternity leave can be a real problem. Federal law may change to guarantee paid leave in the future; President Obama has called on Congress to pass a law for federal employees that would require six weeks of paid leave for new parents. If such a law were passed, more companies would likely start offering some amount of paid leave for new parents in order to compete with federal employers and attract employees.
For more information on issues relating to FMLA and father’s leave, contact the experienced Los Angeles business lawyers at Hart, Watters & Carter today.