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Estée Lauder settles EEOC new-father leave bias case

Posted On: Jul. 18, 2018 10:13 AM CST

Estée Lauder settles EEOC new-father leave bias case

Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. will pay $1.1 million to resolve a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit charging it discriminated against male employees by giving new fathers less paid leave to bond with a newborn or with a newly adopted or foster child than it provided new mothers.

The EEOC said Tuesday that New York-based Estée Lauder, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair products, also 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 a new child’s arrival and exhaustion of paid parental leave.

The agency had charged the firm with violating the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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.

Under the consent decree resolving the case, Estée Lauder will pay a total of $1.1 million to the class of male employees that received two weeks of paid parental leave compared with the six weeks of paid leave received by new mothers after their medical leave ended.

It will administer equal parental leave and related benefits to male and female employees and use sex-neutral criteria, requirements and process, the EEOC said in its statement.

The agency said this requirement has already been met by the company’s recent implementation of a revised parental leave policy that provides all eligible employees, regardless of gender or caregiver status, the same 20 weeks of paid leave for child bonding, and the same six-week flexibility period upon returning to work. The EEOC said the benefits apply retroactively to eligible employees since Jan. 1, 2018.

Philadelphia District Office Senior Trial Attorney Thomas Rethage said in a statement, “Parental leave policies should not reflect presumptions or stereotypes about gender roles. When it comes to paid leave for bond­ing with a new child or flexibility in returning to work from that leave, mothers and fathers should be treated equally. We commend Estée Lauder for working cooperatively with the EEOC” on this issue.

The company referred in its statement to its new policy and said, “These are significant steps to ensure our benefits policies are consistent with our company values and are among the most supportive offered by any major company to its employees in support of working families.”