Guy Sues J.P. Morgan For Not Paying Him to 'Bond' With His Child

Brittany M. Hughes | June 15, 2017
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A guy is suing J.P. Morgan after the company refuse to give him four months of parental leave so he can “bond” with his child.

According to the ACLU (because, who else?), Derek Rotondo, who says he’s worked for J.P. Morgan since 2010, requested 16 weeks of paternity leave after his second son was born.

According to the company’s policy, J.P. Morgan offers 16 weeks of paid “primary caregiver” leave for an employee who has a baby – a benefit most often granted to the child’s mother, for obvious reasons including recovery following childbirth. Secondary caregivers, usually fathers, are given two weeks of paid leave.

When he requested the full 16 weeks off from work, Rotondo said his employer told him that in order to get the benefit, he’d have to prove he was going to be his newborn son’s primary caregiver – meaning he had to prove his wife was either heading back to work, or was medically unable to care for her son by herself.

But Rotondo’s wife wasn’t going back to work – in fact, he explained she’s a substitute teacher who’s already off for the entire summer. So by Rotondo’s own admission, he’s not asking for 16 weeks off because he needs them – he merely wants them.

Rotondo claims he needs the extended time off from work to "bond" with his son. Here’s his argument, in his words:

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.

On top of needing paid leave following his son’s birth, Rotondo argues he doesn’t want to “miss that moment when our son takes his first steps or the baseball games down the road.”

You know, everyday life things that having a full-time job might occasionally interfere with.

By not granting him 16 weeks of paid leave – despite his not having a medical need for it, and despite the fact that his wife will be home to care for the baby – Rotondo claims J.P. Morgan is perpetuating the myth that “raising children is women’s work” while also “discriminat[ing] against fathers who want a meaningful amount of time off to be at home with their kids.”

Except that J.P. Morgan never said Rotondo couldn’t take the time if he'd needed it – they simply stuck by their policy, which distinguishes between an employee who needs to stay home with their child versus someone who merely wishes to. According to the company’s rules – and Rotondo’s own admission – J.P. Morgan didn’t deny Rotondo’s request because he's a man. They denied it because his family’s circumstances didn’t meet their policy requirements for four months of free paychecks.

(Of course, they also didn’t say he couldn’t voluntarily quit his job and stay home, if he wants to.)

Of course, that's not how Rotondo sees it. Now, with the ACLU’s help, he's filed a lawsuit against J.P. Morgan for discriminating against fathers who want to lay shirtless on the couch with their infant sons while their company pays them for work they aren’t doing.

“In 2017, employers should not dictate the parental roles of their employees along gender lines,” Rotondo argues. “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."

Or, perhaps its time for self-entitled employees – and the ACLU – to recognize that it’s not their company’s job to fund their own individual choices.