Breastfeeding Mom Fired!
I am so thankful to be blessed to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom to my 3 boys. However, there are some moms out there that either have to work or choose to work. Breastfeeding is healthy for the baby, as well as the mother. A mother who is breastfeeding should be nursing or pumping about every 3 hours, to avoid the discomforts of engorgement and possible other infections that may occur as a result of the lack of nursing or pumping. Waiting to nurse or pump for extended periods of time will also cause the mother’s milk supply to decrease.
In Cincinatti, Ohio, a woman named LaNisa Allen was fired after working 20 days at a temporary job for Totes/Isotoner Warehouse. At the interview, prior to taking the job, Allen informed the company that she was a new mom and would need accomodations to pump for her 4 month old son, Treyvion, who was still nursing. A representative called her and gave her the go ahead to come into work, that they would work with her. The rep told her that she could pump in the women’s restroom at 11 o’clock. She did this during her 30 minute lunch for the first few days.
Breastfeeding expert, Dr. Susan Rothenberg, was interviewed by CNN and said, “bathrooms are easily the most bacterially-contaminated, flat out the dirtiest places in the building. No one would want to eat food that was produced in a public restroom and asking a baby who has lower immune defenses than the average adult, asking a baby to eat food from that source is really ridiculous.”
Could Totes/Isotoner really not afford to let her use a room with a closed door to pump breast milk for her breastfeeding baby? If pumping for her baby (taking 15 minutes every 3 or 4 hours) was going to be an issue, the interviewer should have told her so that she could find a company to work for that would accommodate her!
LaNisa was a mom, desperate to give her baby the best, even though she had to work. She spent the time pumping for her baby during her break instead of gabbing on the phone, smoking with her buddies, or going out to lunch. She was trying to give the best she could, but unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.
Her supervisors became irritated at her need to take her break an hour earlier. She sat back waiting for her “allowed” time to pump, while other coworkers took restroom breaks and smoking breaks when they felt the urge and nobody confronted them.
However, while in the restroom pumping one day, her supervisor came in and confronted her. LaNisa said that she made sure her job was covered by her team leader while pumping. She even volunteered to work through lunch. LaNisa asked for just 15 minutes and that she needed to pump earlier because waiting on the schedule she was “given” was hurting her back. The same day, LaNisa was fired!
CNN tried to interview Totes/Isotoner several times, but the company declined. In a statement the company said: “This was a case about a temporary warehouse employee repeatedly taking additional paid breaks without informing her supervisors… As always, we will continue to provide nursing mothers with the appropriate time, flexibility, and facilities to meet their individual needs.”
OK – I have MAJOR issues with this statement! First of all, she was not given “appropriate time” or she wouldn’t have been made to wait for 5 hours after arriving on the job to pump. You would think that the company would be happy to accommodate her so she could focus on her job in comfort, instead of focusing on her engorged breasts and the pain they caused her while waiting for her time in the bathroom.
The second part I had issues with was the “flexibility” they claimed to give her. How could they turn the cheek and allow multiple restroom breaks and smoking breaks by her coworkers to go unnoticed? But let’s pick on the breastfeeding mother? Really? Obviously, they did not have flexibility with her or they could have allowed her to work through her lunch to make up the time. Would they have made people sit at their desks and only allow them to go in and use the restroom every 5 hours? I don’t think so! Do they have a record of firing employees for taking multiple smoking breaks or potty breaks? I don’t think so. Lord help anyone who might have diarrhea!
The third part I had issues with was the “facilities” portion of the statement. Are you freaking kidding me? You made the woman pump in the BATHROOM! Ya know – the place of urination and defecation and vomit and Lord knows what other germs? Could you not at least give her a room with a door to pump in for 15 minutes? Good grief people!
Allen sued Totes/Isotoner and even took the case to the Supreme Court of Ohio, where she lost. Even though she lost this case, I feel like the state should create a bill protecting the rights of nursing mothers. Did you know that there are 24 states that have laws protecting nursing mothers? Ohio is not one of them.
In Washington, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is working to pass the “Breastfeeding Promotion Act,” which, if passed, would protect breastfeeding in the workplace under civil rights law and ensure women cannot be fired or discrimated against for pumping during lunch or breaks. The bill would also require employers to provide break time so that moms can pump and that they would find a private place for the mom to do it. By doing this, employers would receive a tax credit for up to fifty percent of related expenses.