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Paternity leave dispute

A journalist employed by Georgia-based CNN is fighting for paid paternity leave following the birth of his daughter. The division of Time Warner allows new biological mothers and both adoptive parents ten weeks of paid leave, while biological fathers are only offered two paid weeks. The journalist filed for ten weeks of paid leave, and after a long wait his request was denied. He has now gone public with this alleged case of inequality in fathers' rights.

The father has filed a charge of discrimination against Time Warner with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that the difference between the amount of leave offered to new mothers and adoptive parents and that given to biological fathers is a violation of Title VII. This law is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and protects people from employment discrimination based on sex, race or other factors.

However, there is a clear difference between illegal discrimination and an unfair practice. A company's policy might be unfair yet perfectly legal, and if it doesn't involve a protected class it isn't covered under Title VII. The journalist's case is still pending with the EEOC, so it's unknown whether or not the decision will open new doors for fathers wishing to spend time bonding with a new baby.

Norms in society about who rears children are changing. Many households are dual income and the division of labor is no longer clearly divided into traditional gender roles. As a result, it is often difficult to say which parent will be the primary caretaker of a child. Many believe that giving a father the same amount of leave as the mother would be in the best interests of the child.

Source: Huffington Post, "Taking a Stand for Paternity Leave Equity", Scott Behson, November 17, 2013

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