Can employers provide sick leave benefits only for mothers on maternity leave?

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Can employers provide sick leave benefits only for mothers on maternity leave?

I am an expecting father who was curious about my
TN employers paid FMLA leave for new parents. I
was notified that I was entitled to use my earned
benefit time vacation days, however I am not
entitled to use any sick days Ive accrued. Mothers
are entitled to use as much sick days as theyve
earned. Why is there a difference and is it legal? I
understand that women need time for birth, recovery,
nursing, but they also can use the sick day
benefits for bonding time.

Asked on September 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Use of sick days for non-illness or recovery purposes--i.e. for bonding time--has to be the same for both men and women or else it would be illegal sex-based discrimination: you cannot treat employees differently solely due to sex or gender, and since bonding has nothing to do with giving birth, there is no valid reason to treat male and female employees differenty in this regard They could deny the use of sick days for bonding (only allow it for birth-related medical reasons) entirely; or they could let men and women both use them; but they can't let only women use sick days for bonding. You could file a complaint with the EEOC if you deem it worthwhile.


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