An Iowa employer recently violated a mother’s need to pump milk, and the court has ruled it completely legal. The woman claimed that she was denied access to a lactation room because she had not filled out the necessary paperwork. After complaining to her superior, the woman said she was then pressured to resign. In a country where equal rights have been so ardently fought for, this case proved that equal rights for all does not mean special rights for some.
Angela Ames had recently returned to her job as a loss mitigation specialist with Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Des Moines, Iowa, after taking two months off for maternity leave. Seeking privacy to use her breast pump, the woman made her way to the lactation room but was denied access. This was based on the grounds that she had not filled out requisite paperwork or waited the three days. According to NBC News, when taking up the complaint with her superior, Karla Keel, Ames was pressured to resign. Keel allegedly told her, “I think it's best you return home to be with your babies.”
There are many benefits of breast-feeding. Studies show that people that were breast-fed showed lower cases of childhood asthma, diabetes, obesity, and even some types of cancer. Doctors encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies for the first few months before replacing with formula. Woman, like Ames, who are not able to physically feed their child due work or other factors may instead choose to use a breast-pump to extract and store milk to be given to the baby at a later time.
Ames filed a lawsuit based on the incident, but it was dismissed in 2012. Again, Ames attempted to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S Equal Opportunity Commission, but this was also denied. According to a recent article on Jezebel.com, the court found that Ames “Did not meet the legal burden of showing she was treated so badly to any reasonable person would have resigned.” This means that Ames will not be allowed to have a trial based on her claims of gender and pregnancy discrimination.
The employer believes not enough time was given to allow them to fix the situation before Ames resigned. They also stand by their decision to deny Ames access to the lactation room since she did not complete the necessary paperwork.