EEOC Sues Estée Lauder for Sex Discrimination against Male Employee

A paid parental leave program that provides new fathers with lesser benefits than new mothers violates federal law, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  In a lawsuit the agency filed against Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., the agency claimed that the company improperly implemented a paid parental leave program that automatically provides male employees who are new fathers lesser parental leave benefits than those provided to female employees who are new mothers.
 
The case arose when a male employee working as a stock person in an Estée Lauder store in Maryland sought parental leave benefits after his child was born.  He requested, and was denied, six weeks of child-bonding leave that biological mothers automatically receive under the company’s parental leave program, and was allowed only two weeks of leave to bond with his newborn child.  He subsequently filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, and the agency investigated and attempted to conciliate the matter before filing suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
 
The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that Estée Lauder’s paid parental leave policy violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibit discrimination in pay or benefits based on sex.  The suit seeks relief for the affected employee, and other male employees who were denied equal parental leave benefits because of their sex.  As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the aggrieved class members, as well as injunctive relief.