Another Mom Fired For Refusing To Pump Breastmilk On A TOILET
Another day, another story about a mother being unfairly discriminated against in the workplace because she’s trying to feed her child via her boobs. Even though it’s illegal to discriminate against breastfeeding mothers on the job, it still seems to keep happening. The newest case is out of central Indiana, where a mother says she was fired after asking for a suitable place to pump at work. No, a toilet is not a suitable place.
Erin Zinn told Fox 59 she was hired as a seasonal employee at Rural King. She claims she was upfront about the allowances she would need as a breastfeeding mother — to pump milk every four hours so she could continue to provide milk for her child while she was working. Fox 59 points out that “according to the Indiana Law Code, ‘an employer shall provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express the employee’s breast milk in privacy during any period away from the employee’s assigned duties.'”
Zinn explained that she brought up her need to pump at the interview, then when it came down to actually doing it, her manager suggest she use a public toilet stall. She refused, because gross, and her manager said she could use a dressing room stall. Apparently management changed their mind when they realized pumps produce sound or something, because a few days later when she asked to be excused to pump, they suggested she use the toilet again. Again, she refused. Later that day she was fired:
“He said that due to my availability not being completely open and my needs, all the issues that arose due to my needs, that I wasn’t a good suit for the job.”
Zinn said her availability was made clear in her application. If it wasn’t acceptable, why was she hired in the first place, she wondered.
“My availability didn’t change from my application. They had time to review that,” she said. “I think they fired me, because I wouldn’t quietly pump in the bathroom.”
The bottom line is that most workplaces are not set up to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. I worked as a waitress while I was breastfeeding and there was absolutely no private place to pump in the whole establishment. It forced me to wean my first child a lot sooner than I would have liked, because going an eight-hour stretch without pumping greatly diminished my supply. Also, it hurt like hell.
I know it sucks to have to provide a small, private space — but too bad. There are plenty of other regulations businesses have to abide by that they probably would not do on their own accord. Do you know how many businesses would skip providing disabled access to bathrooms if they could? If you are going to be a fair employee you need to set yourself up to be able to employ women who are breastfeeding. Women account for more than half of the American workforce. Providing accommodation for breastfeeding mothers is not a requirement that is “out there.”
“Indiana Code 22-2-14 functionally encourages employers with 25 or more employees to provide employees a private location to express breast milk and provide for or allow cold storage of expressed breast milk,” wrote Robert Dittmer, director of public relations for the Indiana Department of Labor.
The laws are on our side, it’s time for the execution of those laws to be as well.
(photo: Fox 59)