Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breast-pumping breaks can get you fired

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that the company Totes/Isotoner was within its rights to fire a woman who was taking unscheduled breaks so she could pump her breasts. The court says it was not discrimination, and that the reason she took the breaks doesn't matter.

Kind of alarming verdict. I'm not sure how a court can say lactation doesn't matter in this case. If she weren't lactating, she wouldn't be taking the breaks (one can assume), but yet it doesn't matter that that was the reason?

Apparently the court was just trying to avoid the whole issue of whether lactation is covered under the state's Pregnancy Discrimination Act. I highly recommend reading this summary of the case, posted on the blog FYI: Central Ohio Employment Law Update. It does a good job of explaining the case and the decision in it, and has this note:
In any event, Isotoner now finds itself in the unenviable position of manufacturing a product (i.e., fashion gloves, slippers and umbrellas) to women who it will not permit to take a daily fifteen minute break to pump breast milk for suckling infants. Ohio employers are left unsure whether a future court decision will address this question or whether the Ohio legislature will eventually take it up. For now, there is no law in Ohio giving women the right to take breaks to pump breast milk for their infants.
(emphasis mine)

Again, something that seems so obvious to me -- allowing women time at work to pump milk so they can feed their babies -- is going to have to be legislated. Is there actually no common sense in the corporate world? In the meantime, I'll be sure to avoid buying any of this company's products, and I hope others do the same.

More reading on the case:
Ohio Employer's Law Blog
Columbus Dispatch

1 comment:

Meghan said...

This makes me ill. It's moments like this make me so happy to live in California.

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