A judge in Houston ruled that a Texas woman who was fired for pumping while at work is not sex discrimination since “lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.”
Donnicia Venters, 30, went on maternity leave pursuant to her company’s policy of permitting employees to take open-ended leave for surgeries or other medical conditions. Venters said she “consistently” kept in touch with management to assure them she would be returning to work and said the president promised to keep a spot for her until her return.
When she called the president to schedule her return to work and asked if it would be okay for her to use a back room to breast pump she was notified that her spot had been filled.
Venters filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming she had been discriminated against as a woman and a mother.
According to the suit the floor manager told the president of the company that Venters was contemplating bringing a breast pump to the office which caused the president to respond “”No. Maybe she needs to stay home longer.”
The company claimed they hired a replacement for Venters because they assumed she wasn’t coming back to work after the birth of her baby and the judge agreed holding that even if that reason were false, “[T]he law does not punish lactation discrimination.”
It strains to reason how firing a woman because she wants to pump breast milk is not motivated by her gender. Texas has a pregnancy discrimination law that requires certain public employers to provide some accommodations. But those protections do not extend to private employers like this case.
Only in Texas will a judge decide that forcing women to have ultrasounds against their will is perfectly acceptable, but accommodating breast feeding is not.
Photo from steakpinball via flickr.