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Judge Backs Firing of Houston Breastpumping Worker


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  #1  
February 8th, 2012, 11:36 AM
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Houston Judge: Being Fired for Breast-Pumping Not Sex-Discrimination - ABC News

Quote:
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."

Thoughts? Is pumping a "medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth?" Should buisnesses be able to hire/fire without government interference?
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  #2  
February 8th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Hmmm... i wish the article would have specified if she was asking for extra time to pump or just a place to do so.

This is what I believe in general:

A woman should have the right to pump, and store milk somewhere while working while she is on her schedule breaks. I don't think that an employer should have any say as long as there is a place where it is safe for her to do so (and every place of work should have a bathroom and or break room, not ideal... but it works).

Pertaining to the case:

I think this judge is an idiot, and the employer should have their butt handed to them. What happened to this woman was wrong. As long as she wasn't asking for extra breaks (with the exception of possibly splitting a 30 minute into two unpaid 15's...), or a whole bunch of special requests then there is no reason she could not pump at work.

Quote:
According to the claim, the president responded to the floor manager, "No. Maybe she needs to stay home longer."
Well start giving paid maternity leave to women so they CAN stay home longer with out financial strife and then you won't have to worry about them wanting to pump at work.


A prime example why these days you don't do anything with out getting it in writing.
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  #3  
February 8th, 2012, 12:57 PM
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It should be legally required that all businesses have a place for women to pump and store their breastmilk. Breastmilk is natural nutrition and should be encouraged. This judge and employer are wrong.
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  #4  
February 8th, 2012, 02:07 PM
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Breastfeeding mothers should start a breastfeeding religion, then they would be able to do it when and where ever.

When I worked I asked my boss several times to put a lock on my office door so I could pump at work without being interrupted. It never happened and I quit.

I would be fighting this all the way to the supreme court if I had to. This shouldn't be an issue anymore. As long as this working mother was being reasonable with her requests there is no reason she should have been fired. Considering she just wanted to pump in the bathroom (which I would never do) she probably wasn't being unreasonable.
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  #5  
February 8th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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How is it not a sex-related issue? Women have breasts for producing milk (and some other perks), men do not have breasts and they do not produce milk. I would consider breastfeeding a medical condition related to childbirth. If you don't pump often enough, it can cause medical issues like mastitis, clogged ducts, etc. I don't consider this government interference, I consider it the government protecting the rights of BFing mothers and I am shocked by this decision.
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  #6  
February 8th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsLMB View Post
Breastfeeding mothers should start a breastfeeding religion, then they would be able to do it when and where ever.

When I worked I asked my boss several times to put a lock on my office door so I could pump at work without being interrupted. It never happened and I quit.

I would be fighting this all the way to the supreme court if I had to. This shouldn't be an issue anymore. As long as this working mother was being reasonable with her requests there is no reason she should have been fired. Considering she just wanted to pump in the bathroom (which I would never do) she probably wasn't being unreasonable.
I'd have hung a sign on my door that said "lactating mother, enter at own risk" and pumped when I needed to. Anyone who barged in would be an idiot.

and LOL at the religion comment "Church of the Nectar of Life" I can't want for the scripture for it to be published! I request Staci.. um.. Stacy? (she'll know who she is) to write at least part of it.. her no nonsense humor is fantastic!
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  #7  
February 8th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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Men have breasts and they can lactate, however a rare occurance. Men can lactate by stimulating the breasts as well as taking medications and/or herbs. It's called male galactorrhea.
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  #8  
February 9th, 2012, 04:09 AM
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My thoughts are that there is a lot more to this story. It would be interesting to find out what her work history with the company was like before she took her leave.

If the story is correct, her employer really should allow her the use of the back room for pumping on her breaks.
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  #9  
February 9th, 2012, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tammyjh View Post
My thoughts are that there is a lot more to this story. It would be interesting to find out what her work history with the company was like before she took her leave.

If the story is correct, her employer really should allow her the use of the back room for pumping on her breaks.
But let's say she was a mediocre worker; or even poor. It sounds like she would not had been fired if she had not taken maternity leave and/or asked to pump. If she was an inadequate employee, then they should have fired her the moment they realized they wanted a harder worker, not the moment she asked to pump.
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  #10  
February 9th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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I thought that legally, you were required to be allowed a 15 minute break for every 4 hours of work. I know that not everyone takes those breaks, but you have a right to them, or maybe I'm wrong. I have to fill out an application to use my break to pump (which I think is ridiculous) and then I can only request that for a year. So what happens after a year and I'm still (hopefully) breastfeeding? And I work for the state!! I realize that the need to pump as much after that won't be as great, but it still seems a little crappy to me.
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  #11  
February 9th, 2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ready_for_BabyMcD View Post
I thought that legally, you were required to be allowed a 15 minute break for every 4 hours of work. I know that not everyone takes those breaks, but you have a right to them, or maybe I'm wrong. I have to fill out an application to use my break to pump (which I think is ridiculous) and then I can only request that for a year. So what happens after a year and I'm still (hopefully) breastfeeding? And I work for the state!! I realize that the need to pump as much after that won't be as great, but it still seems a little crappy to me.
For more info on federal requirements, check out: U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - Fact Sheet
Quote:
General Requirements

Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

The FLSA requirement of break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk does not preempt State laws that provide greater protections to employees (for example, providing compensated break time, providing break time for exempt employees, or providing break time beyond 1 year after the child’s birth).

Time and Location of Breaks

Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary.

A bathroom, even if private, is not a permissible location under the Act. The location provided must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the space is not dedicated to the nursing mother’s use, it must be available when needed in order to meet the statutory requirement. A space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is sufficient provided that the space is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.

Coverage and Compensation

Only employees who are not exempt from section 7, which includes the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements, are entitled to breaks to express milk. While employers are not required under the FLSA to provide breaks to nursing mothers who are exempt from the requirements of Section 7, they may be obligated to provide such breaks under State laws.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business. All employees who work for the covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.

Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time. In addition, the FLSA’s general requirement that the employee must be completely relieved from duty or else the time must be compensated as work time applies.
I don't understand all of nuances, but the statement about "each time such employee has need to express the milk.” implies to me that a mother could ask for more frequent breaks. And IMO, 15 minutes is not adequate time to get out the equipment, pump, clean equipment, store milk and equipment.

And as an FYI, many conservatives do not approve of this provision, and are lobbying to get rid of it.
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Last edited by tiredmom; February 9th, 2012 at 09:32 AM.
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  #12  
February 9th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Thanks Sarah, that's info I had no idea about!

I wonder if those Conservatives are the same ones who aren't for NIP? No need to answer, I'm just thinking outloud. lol
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  #13  
February 9th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiredmom View Post
But let's say she was a mediocre worker; or even poor. It sounds like she would not had been fired if she had not taken maternity leave and/or asked to pump. If she was an inadequate employee, then they should have fired her the moment they realized they wanted a harder worker, not the moment she asked to pump.
I agree and still think that there is more to the story.
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  #14  
February 9th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiredmom View Post
For more info on federal requirements, check out: U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - Fact Sheet


I don't understand all of nuances, but the statement about "each time such employee has need to express the milk.” implies to me that a mother could ask for more frequent breaks. And IMO, 15 minutes is not adequate time to get out the equipment, pump, clean equipment, store milk and equipment.

And as an FYI, many conservatives do not approve of this provision, and are lobbying to get rid of it.
Thanks for clearing that up for me!! Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be a "conservative."
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  #15  
February 9th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by tiredmom View Post
And as an FYI, many conservatives do not approve of this provision, and are lobbying to get rid of it.
Why do they not approve?
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  #16  
February 9th, 2012, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tammyjh View Post
Why do they not approve?
Short answer is money. Having to accommodate nursing mothers with a place to do so cuts into the bottom line.
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  #17  
February 10th, 2012, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by tiredmom View Post
Short answer is money. Having to accommodate nursing mothers with a place to do so cuts into the bottom line.
Do you have a source for it though?
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  #18  
February 10th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tammyjh View Post
Do you have a source for it though?

This provision was put in place as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010 (otherwise known as Obamacare).

Health Reform Also Amended the FLSA
Quote:
The historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the PPACA), enacted into law earlier this year, affects employers in ways that go beyond healthcare. The PPACA also amended the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA) to require break time for nursing mothers, and to add enhanced whistleblower protections for employees. Unlike other portions of the PPACA, these amendments already are in effect.
I probably don’t have to provide sources to show the number of conservatives that are against the Affordable Care Act. You are right in there are not a lot of vocal critics singling out the breastfeeding provisions; but there are a few:

Staples Co-Founder Tom Stemberg Blames Breastfeeding Moms
Quote:
What’s the most serious threat to the country’s economic recovery? According to Staples co-founder Tom Stemberg, one possibility is breastfeeding mothers. He recently ranted about the fact that President Obama’s health care bill requires what Stemberg called “lactation chambers” for new mothers who need to breastfeed on the job. “Do you want [farming retailer] Tractor Supply to open stores or would you rather they take their capital and do what Obamacare and its 2,700 pages dictates – which is to open a lactation chamber at every single store that they have?” Careful, Tom. You do not want to piss off the breastfeeding moms.

See, you have to understand, moms, Stemberg loves breastfeeding! Some of his best friends are breastfeeders! “I’m big on breastfeeding; my wife breastfed,” the executive, who has donated at least $20,000 to Mitt Romney and his various PACs this election, added. “I’m all for that. I don’t think every retail store in America should have to go to lactation chambers, which is what Obamacare foresees.”

It does not need to be a “chamber,” which sounds fancy and expensive — moms could only hope for as much! As of the health care bill’s passage in 2010, 24 states already had laws on the books about breast-feeding in the workplace, and society had somehow managed to survive. Still, that hasn’t stopped (mostly male, surprisingly!) enemies of the bill from worrying about the “breast milk police,” and calling the provision “ridiculous.”
Here’s another critic. FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Joe Klein on Big Government Breastfeeding

BTW, here’s a link calling for congress to take action and pass the The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 which would have provisions similar to the FLSA protections, but with fewer exemptions for businesses. Breastfeeding mom fired for needing to pump at work: Take action now! « MomsRising Blog
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February 10th, 2012, 02:54 PM
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I feel like an immature teenager. I'm sitting here giggling over the words "lactation chamber"... I have visions of women being treated like cows in automatic milking machines.... oi


"Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.""

It would depend on what their intended definitions of intrusion is for true restriction. to me, intrusion is a place where anyone walking by can actually see me and what I'm doing. For me personally, an office with a lock, or even a few fake walls built in a backroom corner would work.

It doesn't say the room is ONLY for pumping women, it just says that it needs to be readily available to one.

I wonder if the employer would have to provide one at all times, or if they could just do it on an as needed basis?

I mean DH wants to one day own a store (comic books and gaming.. yeah I married an geek)...I wouldn't want to build a room on the chance that one day we might have someone who's pumping... rather I'd like the option to build one immediately should the situation arise. But, I'm an honest person... I know that's not the case for everyone.
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  #20  
February 10th, 2012, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiredmom View Post
This provision was put in place as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010 (otherwise known as Obamacare).

Health Reform Also Amended the FLSA


I probably don’t have to provide sources to show the number of conservatives that are against the Affordable Care Act. You are right in there are not a lot of vocal critics singling out the breastfeeding provisions; but there are a few:

Staples Co-Founder Tom Stemberg Blames Breastfeeding Moms


Here’s another critic. FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Joe Klein on Big Government Breastfeeding

BTW, here’s a link calling for congress to take action and pass the The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 which would have provisions similar to the FLSA protections, but with fewer exemptions for businesses. Breastfeeding mom fired for needing to pump at work: Take action now! « MomsRising Blog
Klein is not against setting aside a place for women to breastfeed. He's against the government telling people that they should do so.
Quote:
My dad was a small businessman. He didn't need to be told by the government to do that... He would have just said, "Use my office."
As for Staples, I'll have to do some more reading on it as I hadn't heard that one.

The reason most conservatives are against Obamacare has nothing to do with a woman pumping breast milk at work.

Thanks for the links.
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