A government agency is suing The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., alleging the beauty company doesn’t provide the same paid leave for new fathers as it does for new mothers.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Lauder, saying that the business provides new mothers time off to recover from childbirth, as well as six weeks of paid leave for child bonding, while new fathers whose partners have given birth are offered two weeks of paid leave for child bonding. Lauder declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Additionally, the suit alleges that new mothers are provided with flexible return-to-work benefits that “are not similarly provided to new fathers,” the EOCC said in a statement. The organization said the suit came about after a male employee, Christopher Sullivan, working as a stock person in a Lauder store in Maryland, requested and was denied six weeks of paternal leave after his child was born.
The EOCC said the situation violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for class members. The EOCC also said that through Lauder policies put in place in 2013, the company has “consistently and systematically provided inferior parental leave benefits” and that biological fathers were not “entitled to the transition back-to-work benefit.”
“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,” said EEOC Washington field office acting director Mindy Weinstein. “Addressing sex-based discrimination, including in benefits such as paid leave, is a priority issue for the commission,” said Philadelphia district office regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.