Another day, another mom screwed because of the way she wants to feed her baby. Former Border Patrol agent Sophia Cruz says she was fired because she wanted to breastfeed her baby. Of course, she wasn't literally fired for breastfeeding -- it's not like she wanted to carry her baby with her and nurse on the job. She's not crazy. But having a baby, and feeding her baby, created some special challenges her employer chose not to meet. Should they have? Should a woman ever have to choose between breastfeeding and keeping her job, no matter what that job is?
Officially, Cruz was fired for failing and refusing to take a test to keep her firearms certification current. But it sounds like she was harassed out of her job -- she says the agency never set up that test for her. Now she's suing to get her job back and to make Border Patrol follow its own breastfeeding support program. "All I wanted to do was nurse my daughter. And all I wanted to do was be a mom and an agent," Cruz tells KOB 4 in New Mexico.
One of the problems Cruz faced was that her doctors recommended she not wear the regulation bulletproof vest for extended periods of time. Those things are heavy and can hinder lactation. Not only that, her vest didn't even fit her post-baby body. But her employer never got around to issuing her a better-fitting vest, which is required for that test she was supposed to take in order to keep her job -- which they never set up.
So there's the vest issue. Cruz says she also requested (at her doctor's recommendation, again) to be put on light duty. Denied! The Border Patrol told her they needed her back on full duty. She says her employers kept denying her requests because they were based on her doctor's "recommendations" -- which, when they refer to a woman, apparently are merely suggestions not to be taken seriously at all. (More like guidelines, as the pirates would say.) I mean geez, woman, just take an aspirin and shut up.
It will not surprise you to hear Border Patrol also refused to provide Cruz a place to pump. But it may surprise you to hear that Border Patrol actually has a Lactation Support Program -- which they apparently disregarded in this case.
I think something people forget is that moms don't breastfeed indefinitely. You're going to be pumping at work for nine months, tops. So making accommodations for lactating women is a temporary thing. On the other hand, the benefits of breastfeeding can last years, and they benefit more than just the woman and the baby. I think we've all heard about how breastfeeding can save us all in health care costs, right?
Ugh, another case of a woman who wants to breastfeed not getting the support to make that happen. When are we going to get it?
Do you think there are any jobs where the employer would be justified in NOT accommodating a breastfeeding employee?
Image via KOB4