The federal agency charged with stopping workplace discrimination has sued Estee Lauder, alleging that new fathers at the beauty products maker get lesser benefits than their female colleagues.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Philadelphia that Estee Lauder allows new fathers to take only two weeks of paid leave, but new mothers can take six weeks. It also notes new mothers are entitled to a "transition back to work" benefit that includes flexible schedules, working from home and shorter work weeks, but new fathers are not.
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The New York City-based company didn't immediately return a message Thursday seeking comment.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Christopher Sullivan, an Estee Lauder stockperson in a Delaware store.
The lawsuit says that on June 15, 2015, Sullivan informed the company of the birth of his child and his intention to take primary caregiver leave for six weeks under Estee Lauder's policy.
He was informed that as the biological father, he was entitled only to secondary caregiver leave and would receive two weeks off.
"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 Mindy Weinstein, the acting director at the commission's Washington field office.
The suit seeks a jury trial and relief for men who work at the company who the EEOC says were denied equal parental leave benefits because of their sex.