Estee Lauder, a premiere make up company, probably thought it was doing a good thing for its employees when it added a benefit of paid time off for parents of newborns so they could bond with their baby. In addition to the six weeks of paid time off for workers who give birth, the company provides women an additional six weeks of paid time off so that they could bond with their baby. The company gave men, whose partners had just given birth, two weeks of paid time off for bonding with their newborn baby.
A male worker, whose wife had just given birth to their child, requested six weeks of paid time off in order to bond with his baby. The company, which reports that 84% of its employees are women, granted him the two weeks of paid time off pursuant to their policy. The worker filed a charge with the EEOC which has recently filed suit against Estee Lauder on behalf of the worker and other similarly situated make employees. The EEOC claims that the company, by limiting paid time off to new fathers to two weeks, is violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against males.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 87% of private sector workers did not have paid parental leave benefits in 2016, but that tide is slowly turning. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island offer mandatory paid leave and New York will implement its paid leave legislation on January 1. As younger workers start families, both men and women clamor more for paid time off to spend with their newborns.
Employers who do offer paid parental leave should ensure that mothers and fathers are eligible for an equal amount of paid time off to bond with their child, although it is generally acceptable to offer other paid time off to women for the specific purpose of recovering from childbirth. Employers who wish to control the overall amount of time that new parents are away from their job, a paid parental leave can run concurrently with FMLA leave.