Last month, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Estee Lauder in a Pennsylvania federal court alleging that Estee Lauder’s parental leave policy discriminates against employees on the basis of gender by providing unequal benefits to biological mothers and fathers. What’s notable about this lawsuit is that it involves a policy which, on its face, uses a “primary” and “secondary” caregiver distinction that provides different amounts of leave to employees based on that distinction without regard to their gender – a practice used by many employers in their parental leave policies. This lawsuit has left many employers wondering whether such a policy is at risk of being unlawful. We do not think it is at this time.
What is happening in employment law? We will be providing you with quick employment law updates on a bi-monthly basis in a new series called “The Bubbler.” It will let you know what’s what and who’s who in the continually-evolving, ever-important, hard-to-keep-track-of employment law world. The Bubbler delivers current events and other important news to our readers without the time or the interest to piece through the recent legislation, the ever-growing release of regulations and other agency guidance and the lengthy court decisions. We’re your colleagues at the water cooler who tell you just enough to pique your interest (but then provide links to satisfy your curiosity). Enjoy!
I recently read in the NY Times that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a charge with Time Warner, Inc., the parent company of CNN and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. where a former employee alleged that Time Warner’s parental leave policy discriminated against him as a biological father. I encourage employers to read the article, as it reemphasizes the shifting attitudes in this country on family-friendly leave policies, and from a legal perspective, it serves as yet another reminder that employers should review their parental leave policies to make sure they are up to date and do not discriminate against fathers.
My colleague Robert Sheridan was quoted in a Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled New Parental Leave Act Offers More Than Gender Neutrality, in which he explains the implications of a new parental leave law in Massachusetts for small businesses and employers generally.
This past September, we discussed the practical and legal implication of changing attitudes towards parental leave for fathers. Following up on this theme, Massachusetts recently passed a law, the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act (the “Parental Leave Act”), which will replace the current Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (the “Maternity Leave Act”). The Parental Leave Act becomes effective on April 7, 2015 and, significantly, the new law expands parental leave benefits to covered male employees. This post will briefly analyze the Parental Leave Act and the new obligations it places upon Massachusetts employers.
Written by Robert Sheridan
Recently I had a conversation with my father about his options for parental leave when I was born (1979). As a new father myself, I was curious what leave options were open to baby-boomer Dads. My father told me that it was fairly standard to take a day or two off after the birth of a child and to then return to the office, with cigars and tired eyes.
While attitudes and policies towards paid leave for fathers have changed since 1979, paid parental leave for fathers is still relatively rare in the United States. This post will briefly examine the issue of paid parental leave for fathers and address some of the practical and legal principles that a company considering paid parental leave should take under consideration.
Written by Michael Arnold
The EEOC released its updated enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination yesterday — the first time it’s done so in more than 30 years. You can access the guidance and related documents here.