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Estée Lauder Lawsuit – Fed Sues Over Discriminatory Parental Leave Policy

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit in federal court against Estée Lauder, one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world. In this Estée Lauder lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that the company’s parental leave policy is patently discriminatory against men.

EEOC Points To Federal Law For Basis Of Estée Lauder Lawsuit

Estée Lauder created a family leave program in 2013 offering benefits and paid leave for new mothers and fathers. The current policy at Estée Lauder allows new mothers to take six weeks off to spend with their newborn baby. For fathers? They are only provided with two weeks of paid time off.

The position of the EEOC is that equal pay for equal work, including paid leave benefits,  is mandatory under federal law. When a child is born, both the mother and father should be able to receive paid leave to spend time with the newborn. The EEOC asserts that the paid parental leave policy at Estée Lauder violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act require an employer not to compensate men and women differently when they are in comparable positions doing comparable work.

Paid Parental Leave – A Rare Benefit

Less than 20 percent of employers offer some form of paid parental leave, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Federal law does not mandate private companies offer paid family leave. In fact, only four states offer this benefit, and South Carolina is not one of them. The list is confined to California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York, according to CNN.

At the companies offering paid parental leave, the trend is that women receive more paid leave days than men. In fact, on average, female employees received 41 days of paid maternity leave while male employees only received an average of 22 days.

What About South Carolina?

As mentioned, the South Carolina legislature has not enacted a law requiring employers to provide paid parental leave. This means employees, at this time, will need to make due with the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave while retaining the right to reinstatement at their workplace position.

However, the only employers required to comply with the FMLA are those with at least 50 employees. This means if you work for a small business in South Carolina that has, for example, 25 employees, your employer is not obligated to comply with the FMLA.

If you work for an employer that falls under the ambit of the FMLA, you may take unpaid leave only if you worked for the company for at least a year or you worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year. Also, the reasons for taking unpaid leave are limited to:

  • Bonding with a newborn
  • Recovering from a health condition or surgery
  • Caring for a loved one with a serious health condition

Contact A Charleston, SC Employment Lawyer

If you suspect you are being discriminated against at your workplace or your employer is not complying with the FMLA or other federal laws, contact the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts today. We offer free, confidential consultations and can help you with your case.

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