Estée Lauder just got sued for discrimination against men.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is suing the Estée Lauder Companies for saying no to an employee who asked for 6 weeks of paternity leave. At the firm, new dads get two weeks to bond with a baby and new moms, six weeks. The EEOC said an unequal parental leave policy violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
Where are we going? To the parental leave that new dads get.
Parental Leave Policies
Among OECD countries, women receive an average of 54.1 weeks parental leave and men, 8.2. As for wage replacement, 50% is typical. But the longer the leave, the lower the compensation.
You can see below that it is much more typical for new fathers to get less parental leave than new mothers:
Similarly, in the U.S, men are awarded many fewer parental leave days than women:
Gender inequality is also evident when we look at duration in the following two graphs.
Whereas Korea tops the list for new dads with close to 50 weeks and 30% payment. For women, Estonia is #1 at a whopping 140 weeks and close to 35% wage replacement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is at the bottom. Nationally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the sole piece of legislation mandating parental leave. Signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, it provides workers with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for newborn child care.
We should note that the lists only provide the big picture–not the fine print. Based on the pay-out, the allocation to mom and/or dad, pre-maternity leave, how the capped amount compares to a couple’s income…we could go on and on. The countries’ plans and their incentives vary considerably.
Our Bottom Line: Tradeoffs
When men receive less parental leave than women, we are reinforcing traditional gender roles. However, if the solution is to expand paternity leave, then we create a tradeoff. Offices and factories as well as municipal and national budgets will experience a cost. But it is likely that women’s competitiveness in the workplace will benefit.
My sources and more: Thanks to Bloomberg radio for alerting me to the Estée Lauder lawsuit and for their article with an overview. Reading more, you might appreciate the facts from this new study, the OECD, and the EEOC.