Paid leave policies at Starbucks negatively affect LGBTQ families

Gender Discrimination Attorney

Starbucks’ new paid family leave policy, which was announced earlier this year, was touted by the company as “exceptional.” But, while the company is known for its generous benefits to its hourly workers and supportive working environment for LGBTQ employees, its paid family leave policy disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ employees.

Under the new policy, corporate employees receive 12 to 16 weeks of paid family leave, but only zero to six weeks are offered to retail employees. Among the retail employees, only mothers who give birth are offered six weeks of paid leave, while fathers and adoptive parents are offered zero.

Since most paid family leave families exclusively benefit birth mothers, LGBTQ families are more likely to be disadvantaged by such policies, as they are four times more likely to adopt and six times more likely to raise foster children. Additionally, studies have indicated that gay and lesbian parents are more likely than heterosexual couples to adopt older children with special needs.

Policies that only offer paid leave to birth mothers make it more difficult for fathers and adoptive parents, including LGBTQ couples, to settle into their new life and offer the necessary care to their children during those important first weeks and months.

Some Starbucks workers are protesting the policy, outraged over the fact that the “white collar” class of workers is given more time with their families than those who work in retail. Others are working towards acquiring signatures to petition for a change in the policy so that the needs of LGBTQ workers are also covered. Starbucks baristas joined up with PL+US in the goal of raising over 35,000 signatures for the petition to schedule a meeting with Starbucks’ vice president of global benefits to discuss the issue and advocate for change.