Court Rules Against Breast-Feeding Mom

Filed under: In The News, Work Life, Breast-Feeding

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against a nursing mom who was fired for pumping her breasts during an unauthorized break.

LaNisa Allen was fired in August 2005 when she was caught pumping breast milk while she was on the clock at Totes/Isotoner, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Allen sued the company, saying that lactation was a natural consequence of pregnancy and therefore she should be protected under the state's pregnancy anti-discrimination law.

The court ruled against Allen 5-1, saying that her employer had the right to fire her for taking an unauthorized break. The court decision said that Allen should have asked to be accommodated before breaking the rules.

Justice Paul E. Pfeifer dissented, and he wrote that the court should have answered the question of whether nursing moms are entitled to the same protection as pregnant women.

"Ohio's working mothers who endure the uncomfortable sacrifice of privacy that almost necessarily accompanies their attempt to remain on the job and nourish their children deserve to know whether Ohio's pregnancy-discrimination laws protect them," Pfeifer wrote, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Timothy P. Reilly, attorney for Totes/Isotoner, said that the case was not about motherhood or pregnancy, but was a simple case of a worker taking unauthorized breaks.

"Totes has taken the position since the beginning of this case that it terminated the plaintiff (Allen) for a proper reason, and that's that she took unauthorized work breaks, regardless of her sex or condition," Reilly said.

Question: How should businesses accommodate breast-feeding moms?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.