A Texas woman's employment discrimination case has gained national attention as the 5th circuit appeals court prepares to determine the boundaries of pregnancy discrimination. The question in this case is whether lactation is a "pregnancy-related condition" within the meaning of the amended version of Title VII of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
In many ways it is surprising that 25 years after the law was passed there is still a question about the bounds of this protection. On the other hand, as the law has given greater opportunity to women in the workforce, there are more opportunities to challenge the status quo.
One Houston employment law expert told reporters that many employers are still not aware that they have a duty not to discriminate against pregnant employees.
Other employment and discrimination laws support the inclusion of breast feeding and lactation under Title VII, including the recently upheld Affordable Care Act. As a part of the new healthcare law, Congress also amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide employees with reasonable break time to pump breast milk for a full year after the birth of the child.
The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society are both supporting the EEOC's appeal of the judgment against the woman. In a brief filed with the appeals court show support, the physicians groups pointed out that lactation is a medical condition caused only by pregnancy and it logically and medically a pregnancy-related condition that would fall under the amended protections of Title VII.
Our San Antonio employment law firm handles a variety of employment discrimination cases. More information is available our website.
Source: Workforce.com, " 'Great Texas Lactation Case' Debates Whether Breast-Milk Pumping Is a Pregnancy Related Condition" Matthew Heller, Aug. 23, 2012