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

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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