Does Your Maternity Policy Discriminate Against Men?

paternity leaveIn August, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Estee Lauder, claiming that its parental leave policy for new parents was discriminatory.

If this seems strange to you, I’m not surprised. After all, most maternity leave policies provide leave for new moms, right? But what about new dads?

If your parental leave policy focuses more on mothers than fathers, the EEOC might come after you for discrimination next!

Parental leave stats:

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), companies provided:

  • An average of 41 paid days of leave to moms
  • Only 22 paid days for dads

Estee Lauder grants new moms six weeks for child bonding, and new dads two weeks.

Oftentimes companies provide plenty of time for new mothers to recover from childbirth and to bond with the new baby. Dads, if they receive paternity leave at all, may very well be given less time off than mom.

The EEOC thinks this is gender discrimination violating the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Estee Lauder parental leave lawsuit:

The EEOC lawsuit against Estee Lauder is seeking back pay, damages and injunctive relief for all male employees at Estee Lauder who have been affected by the discriminatory leave benefit.

To quote the EEOC, “Federal law requires equal pay, including benefits, for equal work, and that applies to men as well as women.”

This will be an interesting case to watch and an interesting dialogue to participate in.

  • Do gender-specific paid leave policies reinforce gender stereotypes?
  • Do they discriminate?
  • Will the result be enhanced benefits for dads or fewer benefits for moms?

As gender pay equity remains a hot issue for women, it seems that men have perhaps found a gender equity issue of their own.

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