Josh Levs, father of a new baby girl, emerged from his sleep-deprived stupor last month to take a stand: He is challenging his employer’s parental leave policy on the grounds that it discriminates against biological dads.I usually side with the dad on issues like this, but I have to admit that childbirth is a little more traumatic for the mom than the dad, and there is more reason for maternal leave than paternal leave. I do not see a need for the feds to intervene in a case like this. But if blind egalitarian thinking leads to better recognition of parental rights for dads in other areas, so much the better.
This was his third child, and this time around, he said he felt compelled to take action. So Mr. Levs, a reporter at CNN, filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Time Warner, his employer’s parent company.
He took his case public on his Tumblr page, where he laid out his reasoning: Birth mothers are entitled to 10 weeks of paid leave. The same policy applies to both men and women who adopt or have children through a surrogate. Biological fathers, on the other hand, receive only two paid weeks.
There aren’t any federal laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination against workers with family responsibilities, but some states and municipalities have more specific protections. The types of claim filed by Mr. Levs is brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforced by the E.E.O.C., which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. Mothers who claim they were treated differently from men with children file claims under the law, and so do fathers who say they were denied leave or benefits available to female caregivers.
That’s generally what Mr. Levs is contending. “If I gave up my child for adoption, and some other guy at Time Warner adopted her, he would get 10 weeks off, paid, to take care of her,” he wrote on his Tumblr page. “I, however, the biological father, can’t.”
And when men take time off after the birth of a child, it can have lasting ripple effects. Not only does it help create a connection with the child, but it sets the stage for a more egalitarian division of labor at home over the longer term. It could also help equalize the perception when women take time off. “If it is true that women will not be equal in the workplace until men are equal at home,” Ms. Calvert added, “it has greater repercussions as well.”This is a fantasy.