- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Estée Lauder Companies Inc. for sex discrimination, alleging that the cosmetic giant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by giving new fathers less paid parental leave time than new mothers.
- The suit alleges that Estée Lauder's paid leave policy gives new mothers six weeks of paid parental leave for bonding with a new baby (after medical leave), but gives new fathers only two weeks for bonding. The suit also claims that the company provides new mothers with flexible return-to-work benefits that aren't offered to new fathers.
- After his child's birth, a male stockroom worker requested the six weeks of paid parental leave for bonding that biological mothers automatically receive, but was allowed only two weeks. EEOC says the case also violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which protects workers from pay discrimination based on gender. The agency is seeking relief for the plaintiff and other men who were denied equal paid parental leave.
Employers are free to give birth mothers medical leave to recover from childbirth, but lawsuits are increasingly alleging that any bonding time offered must be made available to all new parents equally.
A similar suit is pending against JPMorgan Chase; a male employee is suing the company over its separate "primary caregiver" and "secondary caregiver" leaves. It refused to award him the longer leave reserved for primary caregivers unless he could prove that his wife couldn't serve as their new baby's primary caregiver.
And it's not just lawsuits that employers have to worry about. Employee engagement is apparently at stake, too. A [email protected] study from 2016 found that 95% of men think they should have fully paid parental leave. And 64% feel like their company and colleagues treat working moms and dads differently: half said their company is more lenient toward working moms and 43 percent said their employer offers more benefits for moms than dads.