Terrible Judge Says Woman Fired Over Pumping Breast Milk Wasn't Discriminated Against

Illustration for article titled Terrible Judge Says Woman Fired Over Pumping Breast Milk Wasn't Discriminated Against

In a curious decision, a judge in Texas has ruled that a woman who was fired after she asked for a place in the office to pump her breast milk was not discriminated against. Donnicia Venters was working at a debt collection agency called Houston Funding in 2008 when she gave birth to a daughter. As she was about to come back from maternity leave, she asked the company's vice president for a private place in the office to pump her breast milk, and she was suddenly told her position had been filled. She then got a back-dated termination notice a week later, which cited "job abandonment" as the cause.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took her case to court, but a judge just dismissed the case saying she was not discriminated against because of pregnancy—which would be a violation of the Civil Rights Act. According to Judge Lynn Hughes, "She gave birth on December 11, 2008. After that day, she was no longer pregnant, and her pregnancy-related conditions had ended." So, in the eyes of the law people just spontaneously begin producing breast milk, and it has no connection to a pregnancy? And what about the health consequences for the mother (not to mention the baby) faces if she's unable to pump when she needs to? That is all kinds of wrong.

Venters was understandably frustrated, saying, "I don't understand the judge's decision. A child needs a mother and mother's milk. It really isn't fair and it is discrimination. I just hope the law will be changed." Unfortunately for Venters, she was fired before an amendment to another law was made in 2010 that requires companies to provide break time and a private place for mothers to pump milk. Venters' lawyer is considering appealing the decision.

Woman says judge's ruling on pumping breast milk was unfair [Reuters]

Image via mrfiza/Shutterstock.


The Real Janelle

Let me invite you all to live with us in Chile. In the past few years, we've got HUGE advances in maternity laws and this shit would not be tolerated.

Once you're past the trouble of actually getting hired while in your child-bearing ages, if you happen to get pregnant, the employer MUST keep you employed until your child is two years of age. It doesn't matter if you were hired for a few months; this is the law now. You get mandatory, paid maternity leave from 8.5 months into your pregnancy until 12 weeks past the baby's birth (some of which can be transferred to the dad in case he also wants to be there and bond with the baby; guys get 5 days paternity leave in their own right). Then, I think for the first year of the baby (but may be until they are two), you have the right to dispose of one hour in your work day to pump milk. You may either come to work later, leave earlier, leave for a longer lunch, and so on; your call. And big companies (I don't know the exact number, but those who keep more than, say, 25 women of childbearing age) have to provide free daycare for your children until they're two years old.

I'm telling you all of this because Chile is a developing country, with probably limited resources, and whose work force is mostly employed in small to medium companies... yet this can be done and it gets done and it's fucking awesome.