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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against cosmetics firm Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., charging it violated federal law with a parental leave program that automatically provides male employees who are new fathers with lesser benefits than women.
The agency said in a statement Wednesday that in addition to already provided paid leave, a new parental leave program introduced by New York-based Estée Lauder in 2013 gave new mothers an additional six weeks of paid leave and flexible return-to-work benefits. But new fathers were given only two weeks of paid leave and are not offered flexible-return-to-work benefits.
The EEOC said the case arose when a male employee working as a stockperson in a Pennsylvania Estée Lauder store was denied six weeks of leave and allowed only two.
The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, charges Estée Lauder with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
EEOC Washington Field Office acting Director Mindy Weinstein said in a statement: “It is wonderful when employers provide paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements, but federal law requires equal pay, including benefits, for equal work, and that applies to men as well as women.”
An Estée Lauder spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
LONDONFathers in the United Kingdom could take up to six months' paternity leave under the U.K. government's new Work and Families Bill, while from April 2007 mothers will be able to take up to nine months' maternity leave with statutory pay.