Friday, September 18, 2009

Should Breastfeeding Women Have Legal Protections in the Workplace?

CNN’s Campbell Brown, a breastfeeding mother, did a recent story about pumping breast milk at the workplace. She profiled a young mother who was fired after 20 days on the job. The woman says it was discrimination because she needed time to pump her breast milk on the job. She claims that her employer allowed other workers to take unscheduled breaks to go to the bathroom or go outside to smoke, but wouldn’t allow her to do the same so she could pump. And, though they allowed her time to breastfeed during lunch, it meant she had to go five hours without pumping (which caused her to become engorged) and she was told to pump in an unsanitary bathroom. Her employer says this isn’t a breastfeeding issue, and that she was fired for taking unauthorized breaks. Here’s a video of the story:

The young woman sued, and she lost. The Supreme Court of Ohio agreed with her employer that this case was merely about taking unscheduled breaks. They neglected to comment on the issue of breastfeeding in the workplace.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York is working to pass “The Breastfeeding Promotion Act,” which she says would protect breastfeeding mothers in the workplace under civil rights law and make it illegal for women to be fired or discriminated against for pumping during lunch or breaks. Employers would also be required to provide break time to pump and must make a reasonable effort to provide nursing moms with a private place for pumping. A tax credit for up to fifty percent of their related expenses would be awarded to employers for compliance.

Currently, twenty-four states have laws about pumping breast milk in the workplace. Do you think we need a national law to protect the rights of women who need to pump at work? After watching the video, do you agree or disagree with the court’s verdict? What experiences have you had with pumping in the workplace?

You can read the full story at


  1. Google my friend Sally Olds, who literally wrote the book on breastfeeding. Contact her for info and support.


  2. YES!!! Women should have legal protection to breastfeed though the entire idea is insanity. Having to legislate for a mammalian function we as a species have been performing for 250,000 years!

    But with the appearance of BIG FORMULA and a few billion dollars the answer is YES we now need to legislate for breastfeeding.

    Todd Wolynn MD, MMM, IBCLC, FAAP
    General Pediatrician
    Lactation Consultant
    Breastfeeding Advocate
    Oh yeah, parent of a singleton and twins.


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