Monday, August 31, 2009

And we wonder why more mothers don't breastfeed?

I just have a few minutes to blog this morning, but wanted to make sure you had all seen the story that had people talking all weekend.

Lactate on your own time, lady is an important Broadsheet post that tells the news of a woman who was fired by Totes/Isotoner for taking "unauthorized work breaks" to pump her breastmilk.

!

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Totes/Isotoner could legally fire breastfeeding mother LaNisa Allen [corrected a mistake that attributed a quote from the lower court decision to the Supreme Court] on the grounds that she was fired for insubordination rather than because she was breastfeeding. Overall, a complete head-scratcher. How did this come to firing in the first place? It seems crazy.

This situation bothers me on so many levels: 1. That an employer would be so adversarial and insist on the outmoded "unencumbered worker" model of business. How about accommodating breastfeeding rather than firing her? 2. That the laws as currently written don't protecting employees from this kind of discrimination and 3. That the court ruling didn't see this as breastfeeding discrimination.

This may need to change at the legislative level rather than through the courts, but it needs to change! We need to put the word out about this case. I will report on any activist opportunities that come up around this situation.

It also helps explains why nursing, employed Moms are satisfied to have any spartan accommodations set up for them, like the spartan closet in the women's bathroom at IBM where the mothers of The Milk Memos (a good book, by the way) turned into their "pumping palace." But isn't it time that we deserve better? If breastfeeding is not protected by employment law, then it's time to specifically write it in to Federal statues.

Update:

Journal News (Ohio) reporting, written before the Supreme Court decision was rendered, gives more details of LaNisa Allen's expereince, including her work schedule. I don't question her need to take breaks, but some letter writes on Salon.com wondered what her exact schedule was.

Totes customer affairs email: customeraffairs@totes.com

Updated to correct an earlier misattributed quote, 2:00 pm ET.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Cali & Jody said...

Amy - I write this as I watch my 3-month-old daughter sleep, after having just nursed her. I am appalled at this, and so glad you brought it to our attention. As Jody and I are traveling, we are always so disappointed in how few places there are for women to pump...she ends up having to hold a shirt up in front of me as I sit in the middle of public restrooms in airports. But what happened in this story is absolutely wrong. We'll definitely be sure to get the word out about this as much as we can...

Cali & Jody

4:09 PM  

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