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Tampa Faces Male Employee Parental Leave Lawsuit


Tampa has recently reached a settlement in a discrimination case with the U.S. Justice Department. The city had been accused of treating male employees unfairly by denying them the same amount of parental leave as their female counterparts.

Parental Leave Discrimination Amongst Male Employees

According to the federal government, from February 2017 to December 2018, Tampa implemented a policy that restricted male employees from utilizing up to 320 hours of parental leave, even if they were the primary caregivers for their children. Instead, male employees were only granted 80 hours of parental leave as "secondary caregivers" during that period, while female employees were allowed to use the full amount of hours.

The Justice Department estimated that approximately 150 male employees were affected by this policy. The discrimination complaint was initially filed by city employee Jeffrey Burger with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and it was later referred to the Justice Department.

According to the complaint filed, at least 10 male employees had formally requested primary caregiver leave but were denied solely based on their sex. This discriminatory practice extended further as supervisors or officials from Tampa's human resources department discouraged other employees from considering applying for primary caregiver leave.

Tampa Pays Employees Collectively $300,000

In late December 2023, the Tampa City Council passed a resolution addressing allegations of unlawful discrimination against Burger and other male employees. While denying the accusations, both the city and the federal government reached a settlement to avoid prolonged litigation.

Under the agreed settlement, Tampa and the Department of Justice have agreed that the city will pay $60,000 to Burger, with $240,000 to be divided among other affected male employees. Additionally, the settlement mandates Tampa to credit up to 240 hours of leave to current male employees who would have taken full parental leave had it been available.

Approval of the settlement is pending from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tampa. Moreover, the city is required to adopt a non-discriminatory parental leave policy, ensure employee protection against retaliation, and provide comprehensive training on the new policy.

Once approved, the city will appoint an Equal Employment Opportunity officer to oversee the implementation of these changes and ensure compliance.

As noted by Tamra Schweiberger, director of EEOC's Tampa field office, "When it comes to providing leave for bonding with a new child or flexibility in returning to work from that leave, mothers and fathers should be treated equally.”

Paternity Leave in Texas

In Texas, there are no specific state laws that require employers to offer maternity and paternity leave. Instead, employees rely on federal laws that may be applicable. One such federal law is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which grants eligible employees of covered employers the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth or placement of a child. It is important to note that FMLA guidelines extend to fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents, as well as expectant mothers.

Contact Our Legal Team

If you believe you have experienced parental leave discrimination, our experienced legal team at Shellist Lazarz Slobin can support you. We understand the significance of equal treatment in parental leave policies and are committed to protecting and representing our clients' rights.

Our dedicated discrimination lawyers have extensive knowledge and experience in handling discrimination cases, and we can provide you with comprehensive advice tailored to your situation.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have faced discrimination in the work environment. Your well-being and fair treatment matter to us, and we are determined to help you pursue the justice you deserve.

Contact our firm today when you dial (713) 352-3433 or send us a message online to request a consultation.