Mom Sues Employer for Not Letting Her Take a 'Breastfeeding Break'

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bottleA new mom was fired from her job after she refused to return to work after maternity leave when she was told she was not able to tack an extra 15 minutes onto her break in order to breastfeed her baby. Kate Abra Frederick worked as a child support officer with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and normally, she was allowed a 15-minute break. But being that her son refused to take a bottle, Kate wanted a little more time so she could run over to a daycare that was two minutes from her job. Her employer said no, and now Kate has filed suit with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I don't think that moms deserve special treatment or extra rights just because they have kids. But I do think that, while we're constantly being bombarded with messages of how "breast is best", the United States sure doesn't make it easy for nursing moms. Especially nursing moms who have jobs.

More from The Stir: Mom Kicked Out of Pool for Breastfeeding & She Deserved It

The pressure of returning to work after you have a baby is enormous. It's a low-grade anxiety that constantly sits in the back of your mind during your maternity leave. And I can't imagine how a mother whose baby refuses a bottle would feel. The stress is unimaginable. Some women are blessed with employers who are understanding and helpful to breastfeeding mothers, but many aren't. And in the case of Kate Abra Fredrick, she basically was forced to choose between her job and her child. And when faced with those two options, the decision is easy. But it had to have been infuriating. 

If Kate's employer had granted her the extra 15 minutes and she began taking advantage of it, that wouldn't have been right. I assume her intent in asking was to help make her return -- for both herself and her baby -- easier. When her son eventually learned to eat from a bottle, I'm guessing she would have just given him pumped breast milk. Offering no leeway on something like this is just ridiculous and gave her no other choice but to quit. She was asking for 15 minutes, not an hour.

Breast may be best, but it sure isn't easiest. Wow.

Do you think Kate should have been granted the extra 15 minutes?


Image via nerissa's ring/Flickr



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nonmember avatar TaraH

I did not allow breastfeeding in my office. It's was a small private law firm and we had clients who felt it was their right to "whip it out" any time and any place. I was actually sued by a client I was doing PRO BONO work for on the basis of discrimination. Keep in mind I was defending this woman who was living in the US illegally and had her child as an anchor baby. She obviously lost her suit because the law clearly states as a private business as long as you give the mother opportunity to attend to her child you can make the rules. Sorry this mom sounds like she wants special exceptions. Many other breastfeeding moms accomplish to pump and their children do not suffer. Breastfeeding commando néeds to start TOLERATING the rights of others.

nonmember avatar Alison Beyer

Tara- I have to say as a woman who breastfed and a small business owner I reluctantly agree with you. When you make allowances for some it starts a watershed of sorts. I do not think its fair that childless employees do not get the same flexibility as mothers tend to in this litigious society. I also have to say this piece is misleading. The mother would have needed almost an extra hour. It was covered on our local news. They factored in travel and nursing times.

nonmember avatar Camom

She needs to get over herself. This is ridiculous. It is 100% special treatment. Is everyone else going to get another 15 minutes? No. I am a mom and I realize how hard it can be but she needs to figure something else out if her kid "won't take a bottle." And I don't believe that. Maybe he won't take a bottle now but if he is hungry and the daycare person keeps offering it eventually after a couple tries he will suck. How many times do doctors have to repeat that they will not let themselves starve.

Just add this to the list of annoying things great feeding moms do.

nonmember avatar blue

They are required to give her time to pump AT work. They are not required to allow her to leave work to breastfeed. Let's be real, there is NO WAY it would only take her 15 minutes to leave work, breastfeed, and come back.

Jessica Thomas

So she was planning on feeding her baby once a day? I'm sorry but I don't think she was right. She should be given time to pump some milk but asking to leave work to go feed her child seems like a little much. If he refuses to eat out of a bottle he doesn't need to be in day care. What is he supposed to do the rest of the day? Starve?

Movie... Moviebuff

Oh man I can already hear the breastfeeding bullies yelling that she was losing her rights. No I don't think she should have been given the extra time no way it would be only fifteen minutes it would be at least an hour and a half. It's not fair for her coworkers to have to do their work plus hers.

Margrit Lehmann

Hmm Why not, my son also refused to took the bottle. And there was no other way to feed him.

All Smokers are going out for a smoke without using the normal break time.

And I think we are talking about 6 months for the extra break for breastfeeding. Then usually babies started with weaning.

nonmember avatar Lucy Rivers

This just makes me even more disgusted with the actions of my fellow breastfeeding moms. It seems that unless the world allows us to go around topless, breastfeed while doing yoga or breastfeeding while waitressing you feel put upon. Ladies we deserve no more special treatment than bottle feeding moms. I must say this makes me ashamed.

mande... manderspanders

Why couldn't she have had her baby brought to her to breastfeed at work?  As a fulltime telecommuter (minus time required for day travel), I multitask and breastfeed while I'm working - phone calls, typing, emails, etc.

But I agree that the baby would take a bottle... maybe the baby just wouldn't take one from HER. 

What I don't understand is why she didn't work with her baby to get the issue resolved prior to returning from leave?  My baby will start part time (2 days/wk) daycare after labor day and I have already tested the bottle and found a nipple we can live with (slow-flow my ass... so far the Medela Calma works the best, but is hardly a "slow flow").  I have confidence that when I am on the road for work, my baby WILL take a bottle from someone other than me. 

Sounds to me like she was very unprepared.

nonmember avatar Alissaanne

@margrit...smokers are not leaving the premises to grab a cigarette. This women wants more than 15 minutes. How would you feel if I said to my boss I need to have an extra 30 minutes to go home to feed my child their gluten free, organic whatever because he will only take it from me personally. NO MATTER WHAT. It's BS and the mother is a freaking whiner looking for a fast buck.

@TaraH- good for you.

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