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Starbucks under fire for parental leave disparity

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Baristas are the face of Starbucks. When you stroll into a Starbucks coffee shop for a jolt of Joe, they are the people who make your coffee -- one person, one cup at a time. If it weren't for them, those who work in the corporate offices wouldn't have jobs.

A female barista at Starbucks is provided six weeks of parental leave with partial pay after the birth of a child. Partners and husbands who are employed as baristas by Starbucks get no parental leave when their children are born.

Employees treated unfairly

It doesn't sound so bad for mothers except that their corporate counterparts get much better parental leave perks. After giving birth, corporate moms get 16 weeks -- about four months -- off with full pay. Fathers and adoptive parents who are corporate employees get about three months off with full pay.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), any new mother can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to stay home with her newborn. However, most families cannot afford to take three months off of work without pay.

On October 1, company office workers could started taking three to four months off with full pay. Retail workers asked the obvious question: Why them and not us too?

An interesting turn of events

A group of investors -- backed by their investment firm -- is pressuring Starbucks to rethink their new parental leave policy. The investors are not stopping with Starbucks either. The group has threatened to scrutinize the paid leave policies of a number of big-name companies, including Target, Costco and UPS.

While parental leave is not subject to antidiscrimination laws in the U.S., wouldn't it be nice if investors started pulling funds from companies that fail to provide equal baby leave for all employees?

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