Menopause in the Workplace: A Multi-Faceted Issue

Menopause is something that approximately 50 percent of the workforce will experience during their working lives, but it is still infrequently discussed or considered in the workplace and many of us are unaware of how menopause can affect those going through it. However, employers are seeing an increase in employees concerned about menopause and their experience with it at work. This is a multi-faceted issue that encompasses a range of potential employment law issues.


Most countries do not recognise menopause as a characteristic that is specifically protected by discrimination laws. But employees experiencing menopause may be protected by discrimination laws relating to age, sex, disability and gender reassignment. Generally, people experiencing menopause are women aged between 45 and 55 so any unfavourable treatment (whether direct or indirect) towards an employee experiencing menopause could amount to sex and/or age discrimination. Gender reassignment discrimination may also be relevant if the employee experiencing menopause is transgender.

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IDOL’s Proposed Rules for the Illinois Equal Pay Registration Certificate Provide Additional Insight for Covered Employers

In June 2021, the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) was amended to add a requirement for certain Illinois businesses to obtain an equal pay registration certificate (EPRC). The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) issued its long awaited proposed rules regarding the EPRC requirements on May 20, 2022. The proposed rules are subject to a 45-day comment period, which has now passed, followed by an internal review, and a public hearing on August 9, which may result in additional changes before they become final.

However, some Illinois employers have already received notice of a deadline to file their Application for Certification before the rules are finalized. Therefore, a careful review of the proposed rules is helpful as we anticipate issuance of the final rules. While the proposed rules largely mirror statutory requirements (the basics which were laid out in prior posts here and here), IDOL has clarified or provided additional information on a number of topics.

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State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q2 2022


Leave Benefits for Adoption: Alabama’s Adoption Promotion Act (the Act) takes effect on July 1, 2022 and requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The Act also mandates that employers who provide paid leave benefits and additional leave considerations for the birth of a child provide similar benefits for adoption.

Marketplace Contractors: Effective July 1, 2022, marketplace contractors are not considered employees under workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws (if certain conditions are met). Marketplace contractors are persons/entities who enter into agreements with marketplace platforms to be connected with third parties seeking services — such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.


Expansion of Employer Definition under Sexual Harassment Discrimination: Arizona enacted a change to the sexual harassment provisions of existing employment discrimination law, so that the law applies to any employers or their agents who commit sexual harassment or retaliate against someone for reporting it.

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Big Law Hit Again With a California Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Earlier this week, Wendy Moore, a former partner at Jones Day, filed a representative action against the law firm in San Francisco Superior Court, alleging a single cause of action pursuant to the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) for alleged violations of the California Equal Pay Act, as amended by the Fair Pay Act of 2015, and related violations of the California Labor Code. The PAGA permits employees to bring civil suits to recover penalties on behalf of themselves and other aggrieved employees for Labor Code violations. Unlike class actions, PAGA claims can proceed regardless of whether the plaintiff can meet the requirements to certify a class.

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Is Your Parental Leave Policy Really Gender Neutral?

On June 15, 2017, J.P. Morgan Chase employee Derek Rotondo filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging that the company’s parental leave policy discriminates against males by relying on a sex-based stereotype that mothers are the primary caretakers of children, thereby denying fathers paid parental leave on the same terms as mothers. The EEOC charge, filed on a class-wide basis, seeks relief on behalf of himself and all fathers who were or will be subject to J.P. Morgan’s parental leave policy.

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Mom-Friendly Policies May Be A Nice Perk But Could Constitute Gender Discrimination

The EEOC, and at least some Plaintiffs’ lawyers, are taking the position that employers may not offer more parental leave to a birth mother than to a father, unless justified by medical necessity. Any other outcome, they claim, would constitute discrimination against men on the basis of sex.

This Summer (on June 25, 2015), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues on June 25, 2015. The EEOC’s new guidance states that any parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms. Further, according to this guidance, companies may offer longer leaves to biological mothers than to fathers, only if the difference in length of leave is justified by a medical necessity. The EEOC gives the example of the following policy that complies with Title VII: offering “pregnant employees up to 10 weeks of paid pregnancy-related medical leave for pregnancy and childbirth as part of its short-term disability insurance” and allowing all new parents six weeks of parental leave. The EEOC states that this policy gives an equal amount of parental leave and allows women who give birth an additional 10 weeks to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Although one may question whether this adds clarity or confusion to the issue, it appears that the EEOC is attempting to carve out a “medical necessity” exception to a rule that otherwise requires uniform treatment.

At least one high profile employer has had to deal with a claim of discrimination along the lines suggested by the EEOC. Last month, CNN and Turner Broadcasting settled an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge with a former CNN correspondent, Josh Levs, who claimed that the company’s paid parental leave discriminated against biological fathers. According to Mr. Levs, CNN’s parental leave policy provided biological fathers only two weeks of paid parental leave and allowed ten weeks of paid leave for biological mothers, as well as to all parents (regardless of sex) who adopted. In October 2013, Mr. Levs filed a charge of discrimination alleging that CNN’s policy violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. The settlement between the parties was not disclosed, but Time Warner voluntarily changed their parental leave policy to allow all parents—biological mothers, biological fathers, and adoptive parents—to receive six weeks of paid leave following childbirth or adoption. In addition, the new policy allows biological mothers to receive an additional six weeks of leave with the possibility of more leave if they have an unforeseen medical need.

What is the bottom line for employers? Employers should review their leave policies to ensure that they are compliant with Title VII, including by looking for unintended negative impact from policies that were designed to be generous to new mothers. As outlined by the EEOC, employers should consider distinguishing in their leave policies parental leave that is related to a physical limitation imposed by pregnancy or childbirth and leave that is provided for the purpose of caring or bonding with a child.

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