When Dad asked for FMLA leave to care for two young kids, his employer denied it because the youngsters didn’t have serious health problems. But the persistent parent pressed for his right to take the child-care time, and won his day in court.
Why? When he learned female co-workers got the thumbs up for similar requests, he sued for bias and retaliation — and the company went into scramble mode.
Now it’s left to make its case in court, where the company must show why it wasn’t a matter of gender bias.
The employer argued the gender bias claim lacked merit, since the father’s request failed to meet one of the key criteria for FMLA approval: The need to care for a child with a serious health condition.
But the company lost when the court refused to toss the case.
The court said a jury should have the opportunity to examine broader issues of gender discrimination and retaliation that had been raised, and there was legitimate concern the male employee’s request for child care leave was treated differently than ones by female air traffic controllers.
Specifically, the miffed Pop said similarly situated female air traffic controllers were allowed to take leave without pay in a special, open-ended arrangement the company had struck — a special arrangement he said he was denied due to his gender.
The company didn’t deny having a special arrangement with women, but it argued it was apples and oranges: The women were not similarly situated employees because they’d previously been part-timers.
Moral of the this story: There aren’t many issues involving FMLA that are cut-and-dried.
But this company didn’t help itself by developing a “special” arrangement to grant leave to female employees — and deciding to decline similar requests from men on the payroll.
Now might be a good time to check your own handbook. Policies concerning time to care for kids must be written and administered so that all employees — regardless of gender — have the same rights and privileges.
Have you ever run up against any similar situations concerning leave time at your company? How did you handle it? Please describe what happened in the box below.