Estee Lauder Pays $1.1M, Changes Parental Leave Policy on New Fathers

July 23, 2018

Estee Lauder will pay $1,100,000 and provide other relief to resolve allegations that it violated Title VII and the Equal Pay Act by discriminating against a class of 210 male employees whom the company provided, as new fathers, less paid leave to bond with a newborn, or with a newly adopted or fostered child, than it provided new mothers.

The skin care, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products manufacturer/marketer 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 the arrival of a new child and exhaustion of paid parental leave, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Monetary Relief to the Class. On July 17, a federal district court in Pennsylvania entered a consent decree resolving the case. Under the decree, Estee Lauder will pay a total of $1,100,000 to the class of male employees who, under the company’s parental leave policy, received two weeks of paid parental leave as compared to the six weeks of paid leave for child-bonding received by new mothers after their medical leave ended.

Revised Parental Leave Policy. The decree also requires Estee Lauder to administer parental leave and related return-to-work benefits in a manner that ensures equal benefits for male and female employees and utilizes sex-neutral criteria, requirements, and processes. To meet this requirement, the company has already implemented 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. For biological mothers, these parental paid leave benefits begin after any period of medical leave occasioned by childbirth. The benefits apply retroactively to all employees who experienced a qualifying event, such as birth, adoption, or foster placement, since January 1, 2018.

Training and Monitoring. The decree further requires that Estee Lauder provide training on unlawful sex discrimination and submit to monitoring by the EEOC.