Josh Levs, a CNN reporter, sued his Time Warner bosses for a “discriminatory” policy, only giving fathers two weeks of paid paternity leave.
As reported by Yahoo:
When CNN reporter Josh Levs put in his request for extended paid parental leave in August 2013, planning to help out at home after his wife gave birth to their third child, he says, “I wasn’t worried about it at all.” The Atlanta journalist, 42, had noted that CNN’s parent company Time Warner provided 10 weeks paid leave for women, as well as for men who had babies through adoption or surrogacy. Equal paid leave for biological fathers, beyond the two weeks that the company offered, “seemed like something they’d just overlooked,” Levs tells Yahoo Parenting. “I thought it was incredibly unlikely that they would turn me down.”
Unfortunately, they did turn him down, and he had no choice but to return to his CNN job.
That’s when he decided to challenge the policy he blasts as “discriminatory” and filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Time Warner demanding equitable paid paternity leave. Announcing his move in a post on Tumblr, Levs explained, “It’s about doing what’s right…I look into my daughter’s beautiful new eyes and know where I need to be. It’s a feeling many other dads know. And it’s heartbreaking to think that I could lose this critical bonding time with her.”
Back in the office, he says colleagues rallied to support him. “I was literally hugged and kissed in the hallway,” Levs marvels. “There was so much positivity.” With the brass though, he wasn’t as sure where he stood. Taking such a public stance, “I knew it was rolling the dice on my reputation and my career,” he says, noting that his lawyer advised him any court proceedings could drag on for years. “I worried, ‘Will another company in the future want to hire me, knowing that I challenge the system?’ But I let my feeling that this was the right thing to do, outweigh that.” Legally, Levs adds, when you file with the EEOC, companies can’t recriminate against you in any way, “so I tried not to let the worries get to me.” It was also a comfort that he’d been covering fatherhood at CNN, he adds. “In that sense, my work had given me a clear understanding of what’s going on with fathers in this country so I wasn’t plagued by fears that I would be judged.”
But Levs’ wager has already paid off. A year after he went to battle against Time Warner, he won. The company now offers six weeks paid leave for any parent, adoptive or biological. (Biological moms get their leave on top of their disability time, typically another six or eight weeks.) That’s a four week-reduction, unfortunately, for the time given adoptive and surrogate parents, which Levs writes is, “not just bad [but] counterproductive.” Still, he notes, “the overwhelming majority of parents in Time Warner will come out ahead tremendously from the new policy.” The very fact that the change was made is progress, he tells Yahoo Parenting. “It’s concrete proof that when dads and moms come together and call for positive change, it can be done.”
In addition to reporting for CNN, Josh hosted a segment on Kyra Phillips’ HLN show, Raising America, called “Dads Do It Differently.”