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Estée Lauder settles gender discrimination in parental leave case

Products from Estée Lauder generally focus on the female market in New York, but a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission revealed how the company's paid parental leave policy favored women over men. The company settled the case with a consent decree that will split $1.1 million among the 210 male employees unfairly treated by policies that violated laws against gender discrimination.

The policy granted women six weeks of paid leave for child bonding after medical leave for pregnancy. New fathers, however, could only claim two weeks of paid time off to bond with new children. The legal complaint also described how the company denied male employees modified work schedules after they returned to work while granting new mothers flexibility when they came back from leave.

In addition to paying financial damages, the settlement established a gender-neutral parental leave policy at the company. Criteria for paid parental leave and return-to-work benefits will not consider an employee's gender or caregiver status. Estée Lauder must also train employees about sex discrimination and submit to monitoring by the EEOC to check for compliance.

The Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act established laws that prohibit gender discrimination in the workplace. A person troubled by unfair treatment at work may wish to ask an attorney to evaluate the situation. If evidence of unequal treatment or harassment emerges, an attorney might communicate the complaint to the employer and strive to correct the problem and collect damages. If a lawsuit becomes necessary to hold an employer responsible, an attorney may manage the litigation.

Source: EEOC, "Estée Lauder Companies to Pay $1.1 Million to Settle EEOC Class Sex Discrimination Lawsuit", July 17, 2018

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