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Does your workplace have a ‘macho’ culture?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

FMLA rules clearly state that “both the mother and father are entitled to FMLA leave to be with the healthy newborn child (i.e., bonding time)” during the 12 months after the date of birth. But some managers still don’t understand why dads need—or are legally entitled to—bonding time with their newborns.

Make sure your supervisors understand that it’s unlawful to retaliate against men who take such leave to care for their children or parents.

Recent case: Ariel was a successful attorney at a Boston law firm. After his second child was born, he took FMLA leave to bond with the child and take care of his wife, who had some medical problems.

When Ariel returned to work, things changed. He says the firm assigned him less work and bosses mocked him for his care-taking ways. He was terminated four months later and told on his way out that his “personal” issues were one reason for his ouster.

Ariel sued for FMLA interference, saying the company’s “macho culture” looked down on dads who took leave for parenting issues. He noted that two senior execs routinely bragged about how little time they spent on family obligations. The court sent his FMLA claim to a jury trial. (Ayanna v. Dechert LLC, No. 10-12155, DC MA)

Final tip: Be consistent with all discipline. The law firm said Ariel was fired because his billable hours were low. But other lawyers with worse numbers were never even disciplined.

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