There is a reason that employment lawyers often find ourselves warning clients that, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Case in point: many companies offer paid parental leave policies that specifically address and provide paid leave for new mothers to bond with their newborn child. What could possibly be unlawful about that? In many cases, those same policies often provide less or no child bonding leave for new fathers, opening them up to an argument that they discriminate against men.
The EEOC issued guidance in 2014, setting forth its position that child bonding leave must be provided to men and women on the same terms. See here. The EEOC has recently brought multiple high-profile lawsuits in support of its position. One recent high-profile suit was brought against JP Morgan Chase in June 2017. Now, on August 30, 2017, the EEOC issued a national Press Release announcing a similar lawsuit against Estée Lauder because it gave men less paid child bonding leave than women. See here.
While employer policies granting child bonding leave to women may be well intended, given the EEOC’s newfound aggressiveness in this area, employers may want to carefully review and craft any such policies to ensure compliance with the EEOC’s position.