With the rise of single-woman-run households and female breadwinners, it would seem in employers’ best interests to adopt policies to make it easier on new parents, such as providing on-site breastfeeding facilities or flexibility to new mothers. But one new mum claims this ideal is still far from reality. In fact, she claims her efforts to breastfeed got her fired.
Kate Frederick didn’t think it would be a problem arranging breaks to care for her newborn son while working full-time as a child support officer with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in New Hampshire. She quickly found out she was wrong, according to her interview with USA Today.
“Immediately my boss started treating me differently,” Frederick says. She says her employer wouldn’t allow her to take breaks to provide breast milk for her son or have the baby brought to her when he needed feeding. The new mother consulted with a health advocate, but in the end, she was terminated for “unexcused absences without medical documentation.”
New Hampshire’s DHHS referred Business Insider to the attorney general’s office for comment. “It appears to be a personnel matter, and it’s an ongoing case, so we couldn’t comment on it,” says Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice.
Frederick filed a complaint and is currently pursuing legal action. “It’s really a call to employers to take this challenge on — to encourage breastfeeding, not to fire people for it,” she says in her interview.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 says that it’s illegal for employers to “fire, demote, reassign, or refuse to hire a woman for being pregnant,” but the law does not say that pregnant women should be treated differently while carrying a child. This means that if she can’t pick up the 70-pound boxes she previously could, her employer has the right to dismiss her from her job. The same is true for new mothers.
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