Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog ran a post about a
teacher fired from her job, allegedly because she spent too much time lactating
for her newborn child.
Heather Burgbacher, a teacher at a charter school in
Jefferson County, Colorado, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission. She alleges that while she had received consistently
positive workplace reviews for years the school this year failed to renew her
contract because of conflicts over her breast pumping schedule.... The teacher
last year had to miss class for about 20 minutes, three times a week, to pump,
during which time her students did "supervised deskwork," according to the
No doubt, breastfeeding advocates will use this story as
ammunition in their fight for the passage of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011. That bill
would insert "lactation" into Title VII's definition of sex.
Unless I'm missing something, aren't women the only
sex that can lactate? No men are being fired for taking too many milk-pumping
breaks during the workday. Moreover, the law already protects lactation rights.
Title VII prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related
conditions. Unless there is some bizarro employer out there that does not
permit employees to take short breaks during the day for any reason, any
employer that punishes a woman for lactating already will be violating Title
VII. Also, the the
FLSA already requires that employers provide breastfeeding women reasonable
break times to lactate.
Simply, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act is a redundancy
with which we do not need to burden our already overly burdened businesses.
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
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