Saturday, August 29, 2009
LaNisa Allen was terminated from her job after she took "unauthorized" breaks to pump breast milk. As a result, she sued her former employers, claiming that the company violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Unfortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 that she was rightly terminated for taking extra breaks. But in his dissenting opinion, Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote:
The appellate court does not explain why Allen's trips to the restroom outside scheduled break times were different from the restroom trips other employees made outside scheduled break times. There is no evidence in the record about any limit on the length of unscheduled restroom breaks and no evidence that employees had to seek permission from a supervisor to take an unscheduled restroom break. There is evidence only that unscheduled bathroom breaks were allowed and that LaNisa Allen was fired for taking them. What made her breaks different?
New mothers simply have to pump breast milk if they choose to breastfeed their newborn(s). If a workplace can allow bathroom and cigarette breaks, they certainly can allow this. Ohio needs to launch the same initiative that Vermont has, which requires workplaces to provide private and comfortable accommodations for new mothers to pump breast milk. It's upsetting that women have to go through an extensive legal process to gain a right they should have in the first place.