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Be careful when responding to breastfeeding discrimination

The law generally protects women against sex discrimination generally and against pregnancy discrimination specifically. Certain pregnancy discrimination laws extend to women who are breastfeeding or who are experiencing pregnancy-related challenges. Recently, the Affordable Care Act and various state laws have insisted that lactating women may not only be discriminated against due to their situation, they must generally be given a clean, safe, private space at work to pump breast milk other than a bathroom.

Thankfully, women are increasingly becoming educated about their rights in the workplace and are speaking up in regards to those rights. However, it is important for lactating women in particular to be careful when attempting to combat sex discrimination related to lactation, simply because this area of law is new and is consistently evolving.

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed dismay over a case involving a woman who was discriminated against after she protested her workplace’s lack of space to pump breast milk in. According to the ACLU, the woman’s employer coerced her into resigning her position at the company. After the woman filed suit, her claim was denied, as were her appeals. Generally, her claim and appeals were denied because she supposedly did not do enough to complain internally at the company before resigning.

This case illustrates just how fragile justice can be at times, especially when laws protecting vulnerable workers are new and evolving. If you believe that you have been subjected to illegal discrimination due to your sex, pregnancy or lactation status, please do not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney early in the process so that your attorney can better help you protect your rights.

Source: ACLU, “Firing a Mom Because She's Breastfeeding Is Sex Discrimination,” Galen Sherwin, Feb. 2, 2015

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