Father says J.P. Morgan's parental leave policy is biased

(Reuters) - A J.P. Morgan Chase & Co employee filed a federal sex discrimination complaint on Thursday accusing the bank of discriminating against fathers by giving them paid parental leave on different terms than mothers based on a stereotype that women should care for children.

FILE PHOTO: People walk by the JP Morgan & Chase Co. building in New York, U.S. on October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/File Photo

Derek Rotondo said in his complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that J.P. Morgan gives mothers 16 weeks of paid leave, while fathers get only two weeks unless they prove they are primary caregivers. Rotondo, who works as a fraud investigator for the bank in Columbus, Ohio, claimed this violates federal and state anti-bias law.

Rotondo, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the law firm Outten & Golden, said fathers must show that either their partner has returned to work or is medically incapable of caring for the child to get the 16 weeks of leave. He said he would not qualify because his wife, who had a baby in early June, is a teacher and is not working until the fall.

“We’ve just received the complaint and are reviewing it,” said J.P. Morgan spokeswoman Jennifer Lavoie.

The EEOC will review Rotondo’s complaint and decide whether to launch a full-scale investigation and potentially bring a lawsuit on his behalf, after trying to settle the case. The EEOC could give Rotondo authorization to sue J.P. Morgan directly.

The United States is alone among wealthy countries in not having legally mandated paid parental leave, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

While some employers offer paid leave to new parents, there is a “widespread failure” to treat men and women equally, ACLU attorney Galen Sherwin said.

Time Warner Inc changed its paid parental leave policies in 2014 after a former CNN reporter filed a complaint with the EEOC targeting a policy that he said gave 10 weeks of leave to biological mothers and parents who adopted, but only two weeks to biological fathers.

Unequal leave policies reinforce the stereotypes that women are the caregivers and men are the breadwinners, Sherwin said.

Rotondo said he wanted to take the lead role caring for his infant based on his experience caring for his first child.

“I have no problem staying up, missing sleep, changing diapers – those things come naturally to me,” Rotondo told Reuters.

Reporting by Robert Iafolla; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Frances Kerry