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June 21, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Lactation Bias = Sex Discrimination

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , 6:00 am

A federal appeals court in Texas has ruled that firing a woman because she is lactating/expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination under federal law, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). The PDA protects working women against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. This particular case involved a plaintiff who claimed that she was fired after giving birth once she inquired as to whether she would be able to pump breast milk when she returned to her job. The appeals court noted the biological fact that lactation is a condition distinct to women who have undergone a pregnancy. Accordingly, under federal law, firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination, because men as a matter of biology could not be fired for such a reason.

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