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Father fights for parental rights

Some Missouri fathers might be interested in the story of a Time Warner journalist who is pushing for more equitable parental leave policies across the nation. The man is filing a claim after being denied paternity leave by his employer.

The journalist repeatedly asked for 10 weeks of paid parental leave from his employer two months before his child's due date. However, Time Warner's official policy only allowed for two weeks of paid leave for biological fathers. It provided for up to 10 weeks of paid leave for biological mothers and adoptive parents. At first, the journalist received no official decision on his request, with his employer saying that it was "under consideration." After his daughter was 11 days old, he received a denial of his request. He then filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim against Time Warner.

However, the journalist admits that Time Warner's policy is actually much more generous than most companies. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that only 15 percent of employers offer employees paid paternity leave. Furthermore, FMLA only allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for parents, not paid leave. Still, the journalist's attorney says that there is too great a disparity between the time provided for new fathers compared to the time for new mothers and that the policy is based on antiquated rationales that the mother needs more time for caregiving responsibilities. The lawyer claims that the policy is gender-based and is in violation of Title VII, which protects employees from adverse employment action due to race, color, national origin, religion and sex.

If a father does not believe that he is receiving the same type of protections for his parental rights compared to a mother, he may pursue legal action. Through such action, he may be able to receive more visitation time, custody or other rights.

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

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Bruce Turner

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