Texas May Soon Allow Breastfeeding Moms to Sue if Shunned
If a woman is told she can’t breastfeed in a public place in Texas, she may soon be able to sue the organization or person that dismissed her, if a new law passes the state’s legislature. The law comes in the wake of a 2011 incident in which nursing mom Michelle Hickman was asked to leave a Target store despite a company policy that is supposed to allow breastfeeding in any spot in the store. Hickman’s experience inspired a nationwide “nurse-in” at Target stores and other locations. More on the new law from The Dallas Observer:
On Friday, [state Rep. Jessica] Farrar filed a bill that would allow mothers booted from a public place for nursing can sue and collect damages from whomever did the booting, be it an individual, business, government or other entity.
Advocates have already won acknowledgment that breastfeeding is the optimal way for newborns to get nutrition and that the practice is something to be promoted. But breastfeeding isn’t yet fully a right, not legally anyways.
Take the case of Donnica Venters, a Houston woman who said she was fired for asking to pump breast milk while at work. She and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued, only to lose in federal court last February.
“Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her decision. That means there is no cause of action for “lactation discrimination” under federal law.
That looks unlikely to change anytime soon, but Farrar’s bill would give women like Venters some recourse at the state level.
This issue also came up online in 2012, when a Facebook nurse-in followed the social networking site removing photos of breastfeeding mothers.
Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock