Dads Shortchanged on Bonding Leave, EEOC Claims

Providing more paid child-bonding leave to new moms than to new dads is gender discrimination in violaion of Title VII, claims the EEOC in a lawsuit filed this week against Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.

According to the EEOC’s press release, the employer provided paid leave to new mothers to recover from childbirth and, in addition, gave them six more weeks of paid leave for child bonding. The employer gave new dads two weeks of paid leave for bonding, according to the release. The lawsuit also alleges that the employer gave mothers return-to-work flexibility options that it did not offer to new dads.stork-with-baby-silhouette

In its 2015 Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, the EEOC stated that while leave related to the physical limitations caused by pregnancy or childbirth can be limited to women, parental leave, or bonding time, must be provided to men and women equally.

The case arose when a new dad’s request for six weeks of parental leave following his child’s birth was denied, according to the EEOC’s release.  The case is pending in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Some employers have dealt with the need to avoid discrimination in a child-bonding leave policy by offering that leave to the child’s primary caregiver only, whether it be the mom or the dad. Earlier this year, a JP Morgan employee filed a legal claim challenging that bank’s “primary caregiver” approach, according to a report.