TX Judge:"firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sex discrimination." #parents #kids #moms #prolife
A judge in Houston has ruled in favor of an employer who allegedly fired a woman who wanted to use the bathroom to breast-pump.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint on behalf of Donnicia Venters against debt collection agency Houston Funding. Donnicia Venters, 30, alleges the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman "because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth."
Judge Lynn Hughes found that the EEOC's claim in the lawsuit was not recognized under Title VII and dismissed the lawsuit last week, writing in the opinion, "firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sex discrimination."
Venters said she was "shocked" by the judge's opinion and hopes the EEOC appeals the judgment to obtain "justice."
"I just hope no other employer does that," she said. "It's just milk. It's actually a great thing to do. I just hope it can be an easy thing to talk to your employer about for your child."
Joan Williams, law professor and director of the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California, Hastings, said, it "makes no sense at all" to say lactation is not a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
"Everybody knows that breastfeeding is a medical condition related to childbirth," Williams said.
First, Williams said, pediatricians have long recommended women should breast feed babies for a certain time after birth to help transmit a mother's immunity system.
Second, if mothers can't pump or nurse, they are at risk of mastitis, a breast infection which can be "extremely painful" and sharply spike temperatures, she said.According to the report, the mother who was fired for wanting to return to work and breast pump had made arrangements that she would be returning to work and kept in regular contact with her employer.
Venters went on maternity leave Dec. 1, 2008 pursuant to the company's policy of permitting employees to take open-ended leave for surgeries or other medical issues. She said she "consistently" kept in touch with management to assure them she would be returning to work. While on leave, Venters, who joined the company in March 2006 as an account representative, said the company president promised to save a spot for her until her return.However, upon wanting to return to work she learned she was fired after she mentioned in the call she wanted to return to breast pump and would need accommodations. After hearing this the manager then paused on the call, and according to the lawsuit, Venters says, "while Cagle had been friendly at the beginning of the call, he paused for several seconds after she mentioned the breast pump, and then stated, 'well, we filled your spot.'"
The floor manager relayed to the president that Venters was contemplating bringing a breast pump to the office. According to the claim, the president responded to the floor manager, "No. Maybe she needs to stay home longer."This case seems pretty obvious to me the manager made his decision out of discrimination and that she didn't abandon her position to have her child. She simply requested accommodations to breast pump and was fired instead. Since this case occurred in Texas, it would seem she has a strong case to repeal since:
Venters asked what he meant by telling her that her spot had been filled, and he stated "well, we thought you were not coming back."
Texas and Alaska have pregnancy discrimination laws that require certain public employers to provide some accommodations for pregnant workers to keep their jobs. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Michigan, have passed laws requiring private employers to provide at least some accommodations. Legislators in New York introduced a bill last week related to the issue.
Do you think the judge made a fair decision? Or was it discrimination? Do you think she should be reinstated?
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