The Committee Announces Settlement of Journalist Josh Levs’ Sex Discrimination Charge That Challenged CNN’s Parental Leave Policy

WASHINGTON, DC - Today former CNN reporter and acclaimed author Josh Levs and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (“Committee”) announced they have reached a settlement with CNN and Turner Broadcasting over the paid paternity leave that biological fathers receive at the company.  It comes nearly two years after Levs filed his sex discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

 In 2013, before Levs’ third child was born, Levs began raising concerns about CNN’s parental leave policy, which provided biological fathers like Levs only two weeks of paid parental leave but allowed ten weeks of paid leave for other parents, including biological mothers and parents who adopted.  Levs was needed to care for his child, but Levs received only two weeks of paid leave under CNN’s policy.  In October 2013, Levs filed his discrimination charge alleging that CNN’s policy violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, leading the EEOC to conduct an investigation of the company’s parental leave policy.   

In 2015, CNN made important changes to its parental leave policies that expanded paid leave for most parents, including biological fathers like Levs.  Under the new policy, biological fathers now receive six weeks of paid parental leave—the same number of weeks of caretaking leave that CNN provides to biological mothers and parents who adopt.  Biological mothers also qualify for an appropriate amount of paid short-term disability leave after giving birth, and now receive more paid time off overall than they previously did. 

“I am thrilled about the new policy, and I am so glad we have resolved this charge in a satisfactory way that’s a win-win across the board—for employees and the company,” says Josh Levs, who is currently on tour with his new book All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses -- And How We Can Fix It Together, which was published in May 2015.  “Businesses are stronger when they embrace the new norm of moms and dads both caring for our children.  The facts and figures in All In prove it.” 

“This settlement affirms the critical role that fathers, mothers, and all parents play in the lives of their children,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, the Committee’s Deputy Director of Litigation. “Turner and CNN are doing the right thing by ensuring that all workers will receive equal amounts of paid leave to care for their children. The outcome of this case is an important victory for Josh Levs, the thousands of working families at Turner/CNN, and the company itself.” 

Josh Levs, a former reporter for CNN and NPR, has won numerous awards, including two Edward R. Murrow awards and six Peabody awards.  Levs has spent years covering fatherhood and modern parenthood.  Levs lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children.  New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow called All In “fantastic”; the Washington Post’s Brigid Schulte called it a “must read”; the Chicago Tribune called it “fascinating”; and Forbes asked in a headline, “Can This Man Get Corporate America To Rethink An Anti-Dad Culture?”  The Financial Times named Levs to its list of “top feminist men.”  The book is endorsed by Maria Shriver, Bob Saget, the president of Change.org, a top official at Twitter, and other prominent figures.  It is “groundbreaking” and “should be mandatory reading for every CEO, HR, benefits and similar” professional, says Debra Isaacs Schafer, CEO of Education Navigation.  See www.joshlevs.com.

In resolving his EEOC charge, Levs was represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s Deputy Director of Litigation Peter Romer-Friedman, Litigation Director Matthew Handley, and Equal Justice Works Fellow Christine Tschiderer, and by Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, including Partner Michael Gottlieb and Associate Ryan Park. 

Media Highlights:

Corporate Counsel
Law 360
New York Times

Contact:

Peter Romer-Friedman, (202) 644-7080 or (718) 938-6132, peter_romerfriedman@washlaw.org
Josh Levs, joshlevs.com requests@joshlevs.com @JoshLevs

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE: The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address issues of discrimination and entrenched poverty in the Washington, DC region.  Since then, it has successfully handled thousands of civil rights cases on behalf of individuals and groups in the areas of equal employment opportunity, fair housing, public accommodations, immigrant rights, disability rights, public education, and prisoners’ rights.  For more information about the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, see www.washlaw.org.

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