Mom Fired for Nursing on the Job, But That's Okay (Office 'Breastfeeding Ban' Applies to Men Too)

Many moms, upon returning to their jobs from maternity leave, may assume it's their right to pump breast milk at work. Yet a recent court ruling called this common-sense assumption into question: a judge has deemed that discrimination for breastfeeding isn't "sexist" because men can lactate, too. Um, what?

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This baffling ruling happened to a poor mom named Angela Ames, who returned from maternity leave to her job at Nationwide Insurance Company to find that no accommodations had been made to allow her to pump breast milk. When she complained, she was forced to resign.

Ames sued. Only a U.S. Supreme Court and Circuit court both sided with Nationwide, arguing that the discrimination Ames faced for breastfeeding wasn't "sexual" discrimination based on her gender because some men could lactate.

More from The Stir: 6 Tips for Pumping Breast Milk at Work

Is this judge for real? Sure, it's true that men have breast tissue, and milk ducts, and can lactate... in theory. So in a purely technical sense, the judge is right: discrimination for breastfeeding isn't based on sex, or sexist. Still, though: what man do you know who pumps milk at work? Name one. Anyone? Anyone?

By focusing on the "sexist" slant, I think this court is missing the point: that neither men nor women should be fired for trying to breastfeed their babies. In fact, EEOC guidelines state that moms should be allowed to pump breast milk at work, so if something's getting in your way you should consider speaking up. Still, as this court ruling makes clear, mom can't just sit back and assume the law's on their side -- this fight is still far from over!

What do you think of this ruling?

 

Image via Brian McEntire/shutterstock

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