Do You Offer Equal Paternity Leave?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Estée Lauder, the beauty product manufacturer, has entered a settlement agreement in the amount of $1.1mm to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 210 male employees who allege that Estée Lauder discriminated against them on the basis of their gender. The allegations included that Estée Lauder provided “new fathers less paid leave for bonding with a newborn, or with a newly adopted or fostered child, than it provided new mothers. The parental leave policy at issue was separate from medical leave received by mothers for childbirth and related issues. The EEOC also alleged that the company unlawfully denied new fathers return-to-work benefits provided to new mothers, such as temporary modified work schedules, to ease the transition to work after the arrival of a new child and exhaustion of paid parental leave.”
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last August alleging unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S District Court entered a consent decree July 17, 2018 awarding the male members of the class action $1,100,000 in damages and requires Estée Lauder to administer parental leave and related return-to-work benefits in a manner that ensures equal benefits for male and female employees and utilizes sex-neutral criteria, requirements and processes.
The announcement of this settlement should prompt employers to examine all workplace policies to ensure that they are applied and enforced in a gender neutral manner. For AAA members who utilize the AAA Human Resources Manual, the current Parental Leave Policy as drafted, would comply with this ruling. If AAA member companies have questions or are concerned about whether their policies or practices are consistent with current law, they can contact me with questions.