PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a lawsuit Aug. 30 against Estée Lauder Companies Inc. - a global manufacturer of skin care, makeup fragrance and hair care products - for allegations of creating a paid parental leave program that provides male employees with fewer benefits than female employees.

"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.   

Estée Lauder adopted the program in 2013, which allowed for additional paid leave beyond the federal standards. Female employees who were new mothers could take an additional six weeks of paid leave for child bonding. Male employees whose partners had given birth, however, allegedly only received two paid weeks of leave for child bonding. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the affected employees and injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.

"Addressing sex-based pay discrimination, including in benefits such as paid leave, is a priority issue for the commission,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office oversees agency operations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.

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