Settlement Between EEOC and Estee Lauder Calls for Equal Treatment of Men and Women with Regard to Parental Leave

The Paid Parental Leave movement has swept the nation in recent years, with the number of employers offering paid maternity leave rising almost ten percent in the last two years.  The problem with that, as the EEOC sees it, is that paid paternity leave has risen only eight percent in the same amount of time.

Recently, the EEOC settled with the Estee Lauder company in a lawsuit filed on behalf of over 200 men who worked for the company, but were not receiving equal amounts of paid leave following the birth of their children.  The benefit was not related to the medical needs of the parents, but rather the bonding time following the birth of the child or adoption.  Details of the settlement can be found here:

The analysis of these claims is simple – if an employer is offering more lucrative benefits to employees on the basis of sex, it will likely be viewed as discriminatory.  Policies should not assume gender roles within a family – men need to be treated equally when it comes to benefits provided for bonding time.  If you are providing uneven benefits to your employees on the basis of any protected status, you need to take a hard look at the policies and make the necessary changes immediately.

The development of a paid parental leave policy can be tricky; even if you are basing it on a mother’s need for paid time to recuperate from the birth, you need to provide an equal benefit for male employees who could require leave for their own medical conditions.

If you need any assistance in coming up with a new policy on paid parental leave, or would like a second look at your already-established policy, give us a call at the Wiley Law Office.