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EEOC Sues Estee Lauder over paternity leave


7 replies to this topic

#1
Brando

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Interested in thoughts on this. Especially from Poe, who I'm guessing will have a more conservative viewpoint on it.

What are the chances of unintended consequences? Will companies start cutting maternity leave, and not allowing time that is important for the health and well-being of the mother and child?

My current employer allows 6 weeks for everyone. First two are unpaid, and you can use whatever time you have accrued, last four weeks are paid at 70%. You can work any number of hours during that, so you can even work full-time the first two weeks and 30% the last four. So it's a decent policy. My last employer allowed six weeks for women, none for men. Before that it was six weeks for primary caregiver and one week for a parent who was not the primary caregiver. I took an extra week of vacation time for my daughter, and having the second week off really helped the family. My wife was in a way better spot for having me home.

#2
Poe Dameron

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Interested in thoughts on this. Especially from Poe, who I'm guessing will have a more conservative viewpoint on it.

 

Can't say I know the Equal Pay Act backwards and forwards, but if it's a straight-up question of whether giving one sex a more generous paid leave than another beyond basic medical is a form of discrimination of compensation, I don't really see how a case can be made that it's not.  Truth be told, I really don't have a problem with giving mothers an extra few weeks if a company is volunteering to do so.  But, I'm always a stickler when it comes to the law, and if this breaks the law, then it breaks the law.

 

Really, it sounds like a classic law of unintended consequences in action.  Happens all the time with well-meaning but broadly written laws and regulations.  One of the more baffling ones I've seen recently was Berkeley being forced to take down 20,000 free publicly available Youtube videos of their lectures because they weren't closed captioned for the hearing impaired and unusable for that group in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Basically, this was a very cheap public service that had to be scrapped because the university didn't want to spend the millions it would have taken to put themselves in compliance for the sake of a smallish group that wasn't being harmed by its existence and received no benefit when it was removed.

 

In this case, it's likely many companies will pull back their paid leave for women instead of expanding it for me.  Thus, hurting women (not to mention sub-optimal for infants).



#3
Destiny Skywalker

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"Maternity leave" at my company is really temporary disability, like you would grant for someone who had a major surgery. I think it's entirely fair, I did essentially have major surgery. I was on painkillers and unable to drive, so I probably shouldn't be engineering, either. First week was unpaid, following 7 weeks were paid at 80%. After that FMLA kicked in for another 12 weeks, unpaid. Now they are allowing non-union employees to take 3 weeks paid bonding leave for the birth of a child, regardless of gender. They also do it for adoption, which I think is awesome. My husband had to use his sick leave for our kids. He also took a little unpaid leave at the end of our son's first year. That time at home with us was very important, though. And our son''s hospitalization that first week was awful, I can't imagine if my husband had to be at work. We were both emotional messes.

Anyway, I think you can make the point for temporary disability for women who give birth. I mean, physically there's a difference, the woman undergoes physical trauma to give birth, the male partner does not. Fair pay or not, I think you have to keep some form of maternity leave just to allow women the time to heal. That would be my legal argument, at least, that it's covered by medical leave, not necessarily parental leave.

#4
Poe Dameron

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Anyway, I think you can make the point for temporary disability for women who give birth.

 

No doubt.  I don't think the government has a problem with the medical leave aspect.  Obviously, men aren't entitled to any medical leave at all beyond their rights under the FMLA if their partner gives birth.  That'd just be silly.

 

If I'm understanding the article correctly, this is a separate benefit that is distinct from the company's temporary disability policy.  Say that if Esee Lauder had a temporary disability policy of Week 1 unpaid, Week 2-8 paid at 80% like your company that would be fine, but it's not what they're using.  Instead they have a unique policy that women get 6 weeks of full pay and men only get 2.  That wipes out the medical component and creates a separate form of compensation to which men would be entitled to an equal share.

 

Let me put it another way.  To the government, this would be like if the adopting couples in your company were given 1 week a leave to the man and 3 weeks to the woman.

 

I'll say again, that as a matter of policy, I really don't have a problem with giving women a bit more time off to settle in with their baby before having to go back to work.  There's just reality in that it's generally a greater burden for a woman to return to work soon after a new child and more beneficial to stay home than a man.  If that's what a company wants to do, great!  But it might well run against the letter of the law.

 

The end result sucks.  Even companies that want to help their employees who are new mothers could be pushed into less generous maternity leave because the cost of the benefit to the company would double.  It could be for that reason that the practice has been allowed for so long.  Everyone was just looking the other way because nothing good would come out of challenging it, until someone did.



#5
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Where I work, they observe FMLA, and everyone gets an automatic 6 weeks paid off, and the option of another 6 weeks unpaid, unless they want to use vacation/sick leave.  I fully support maternity leave 100%.  I think when women have babies, they need the time as long as it is legit, though I think no more than 12 weeks, unless there is a medical reason provided by a doctor.

 

Paternity leave maybe not so much, or at least maybe not as long as women.  However, I also recognize at least the intent of paternity leave is so that the guy can help with their new child and bond with that child, so I think there should be some type of paternity leave.

 

Where I question is how long should paternity leave be.  I am not convinced it should be as long as maternity leave, unless there is a specific reason (at least in the case of my employer, where it is an automatic 6 weeks PTO).  Earlier this year, a coworker of mine was out for 6 weeks on paternity leave, and he admitted by beginning of week 4, his wife was starting to get annoyed with him being around the house all day, and he even admitted he basically just sat around the house playing video games from weeks 4, 5, & 6.  As a coworker where our department was left short-handed and I personally had to cover his shift, at the time I heard him say that, I was a little bit bothered by that admission.  That said, I suppose you have to make it the same for everyone to cover those who actually do need the time.



#6
Brando

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My previous company had a policy of the primary caregiver getting six weeks. So if you had a wife who had to go back quickly for some reason, you could get six weeks. It was a policy mainly geared towards adoption and gay couples, but it also worked for heterosexuals as well.

#7
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Well, in practice I don't have a problem with leave, with regard to a new baby, or even adoption.

 

 

In principal, I have an issue when said leave isn't used as it was intended, but I recognize that there is no way to really govern it so that it isn't misused.  So, if someone uses their leave for 6 weeks of playing on their Nintendo Switch, rather than helping their wife change poopy diapers while she is healing from having a baby, then I suppose that is the price we pay to help those that do need the time off.  I just think people in those cases just shouldn't tell their coworkers (or brag and rub it in their face, like in my case) about it and then later wonder why no one thinks much of them when they get back from leave.   



#8
Brando

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Yeah, I can't even imagine. I took two weeks off with my daughter (kid #2) and going back to work was like a vacation compared to time at home. Taking care of the older kid, staying up with the baby, preparing every meal..



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