Breast-feeding and pregnant women make waves -- and headlines
Is it something in the water? Pregnant and breast-feeding women are making headlines of late, or rather the responses to the women are making news (and not in a good way):
-- A Houston mother says she was fired from her job at a collection agency after asking to bring a breast pump into the office so she'd have plenty of fresh breast milk for her newborn. Her employer at the time, Houston Funding, says she quit.
The legal proceedings have lasted for years, with the case coming to the public's attention recently when Houston Judge Lynn Hughes rejected the mother's case. Hughes said the sexual discrimination claim could not stand because "lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition."
Plenty of people disagreed. "There are no people that we know of who lactate who haven’t given birth recently," Timothy Bowne, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorney who is considering filing an appeal on the mother's behalf, told KHOU.com.
-- A new Connecticut mom says her new employer, a marketing company, asked her to resign after she told them she was pregnant.
Amy Zvovushe, who was profiled at ABCnews.com, says she resorted to secretly recording her employer and hired an attorney to pursue a discrimination case. A senior program manager, Zvovushe says she was given back her job when executives learned about the recording. But her attorney, Jack Tuckner, told ABC that that's not good enough.
"Because they were able to fix it, they say no harm, no foul," Tuckner told ABC. "They just hope women will just ride off into the sunset." He's filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the State of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights.
-- And let's not forget the group of moms who staged a "nurse-in" at Facebook headquarters this week. They were protesting a company policy that allegedly calls breast-feeding photos "inappropriate."
Facebook has angered more than a few moms by locking up their accounts for posting such offending photos, but told the Huffington Post that its actions typically followed user complaints:
"We agree that breast-feeding is natural.... However, photos which contain a fully exposed breast do violate our terms and may be removed if they are reported to us. These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media. It is important to note that photos upon which we act are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain about them being shared on Facebook."
We reached out to expert Dina Bakst, co-founder and president of A Better Balance, an organization dedicated to helping working families. What gives?
"It's not a coincidence; there are definitely more of these cases," she told The Times. "The problems that pregnant women and new mothers face on the job are very real. People don't realize the gaps in the law until they need protection."
The issues won't be going away anytime soon. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is addressing pregnancy discrimination at a Feb. 15 hearing in Washington.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
File photo: Houston Chronicle