All-GOP Ohio Supreme Court rules breastfeeding unconnected to pregnancy

Who knew!?

You know, I’ve been pregnant three times, gave birth to live, healthy babies three times and nursed each of my three babies.  If breastfeeding my babies was not related to pregnancy, someone tell me what was going on with my body, k?

Kate Harding at Salon.com has an excellent take-down and analysis of this gobsmackingly narrow decision regarding Totes/Isotoner’s pregnancy discrimination that defies common sense.

In the strictest legal sense, the ruling is logical: Allen admitted she took unauthorized breaks, and that’s a firing offense. If she can’t prove that someone said, “Ha! Now’s our chance to get rid of her for being a woman!” then apparently, she can’t prove discrimination. But it’s manifestly weaselly to suggest that her “insubordination” can somehow be separated from the fact that she was lactating, especially since they were responding to a decision that included this colossal eye-roller:

“Allen gave birth over five months prior to her termination from [Isotoner]. Pregnant [women] who give birth and choose not to breastfeed or pump their breasts do not continue to lactate for five months. Thus, Allen’s condition of lactating was not a condition relating to pregnancy but rather a condition related to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination.”

Of course not.

ZOMG.

Hey, you know – Totes obviously has no idea just how many women wear Totes-like socks during labor and delivery.  Do they really want every hospital to stop purchasing those items from them?  How about hotels, spas – also places lactating and pregnant women like to go – often for non-pregnancy related occasions.

Let me tell you something, Totes – you don’t think breastfeeding is connected to pregnancy?  Well – I don’t think wearing your brand of socks is connected to keeping my tootsies warm anymore.

Game on.

NB:  Anyone ask the thousands of doctors across the country, who tell women to breastfeed as long as possible because of the health benefits of breastfeeding to the babies, how they feel about this decision and whether breastfeeding is connected to pregnancy? And how about how our country ranks embarrassingly high on infant mortality, with countries like Germany, South Korea, Britain – oh, and Cuba doing better? Nah – guess Totes could care less about that.

32 thoughts on “All-GOP Ohio Supreme Court rules breastfeeding unconnected to pregnancy

  1. My maternity leave was covered under FMLA and I am not being allowed to return to work because I am breastfeeding, specifically!

    I’m going to take this issue as far as it can go, and I’m looking for connections and support! Help me change things! Cbond.8705@yahoo.com. please, feel free to email me with all advice suggestions and support. I will not forget ANYONE that helps me in this endeavor!

    Most likely financial compensation won’t be present (I don’t know for sure) but I for one don’t care, I just want the rights of breastfeeding mothers to be recognized and protected!

  2. The other circumstances of which Vicki Fightmaster speaks are clearly related to class issues.

    If LaNisa worked in an office instead of a warehouse and not been a temporary employee (many warehouse and factory workers are employed via contract ), her additional daily 10 minute break would not have been a fire-able offense.

    LaNisa was busted in the bathroom pumping and when she spoke to a supervisor later that day to ask if they could adjust her break schedule, they fired her.

  3. Received (from vickie.fightmaster@totes.com), the same
    canned response I have seen posted elsewhere. It boils down to “…there were other circumstances.”
    ———–

    Thank you for your note and concerns regarding the Ohio Supreme Court Ruling regarding the termination of a temporary employee.

    As a matter of policy, totes»ISOTONER is not able to provide specific information surrounding the employment circumstances of any employee. What we can share is that based on the circumstances involved with this specific temporary employee, the totes»ISOTONER employment decision has been supported by the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, the Ohio Court of Appeals for the 12th District and the Ohio Supreme Court. And while we cannot specifically address the Ohio Supreme Court Ruling, we can share several of our workplace practices:

    · totes»ISOTONER absolutely supports employees, whether full-time, part-time, or temporary, who are also nursing mothers.
    · totes»ISOTONER does provide time for nursing mothers to pump their breast milk and many employees have taken advantage of this accommodation. In the case presented to the Supreme Court, we did provide this accommodation.
    · totes»ISOTONER is a company committed to supporting our employees. Because females account for approximately 70% of our work force, we are very attuned to and supportive of the needs of working mothers.

    Again, thank you for your note and expressing your views on this issue. We take great pride in our culture of being a family oriented company, and can only indicate there were other factors involved in this particular situation which led to the company’s decision in this case.
    We appreciate your having been a customer in the past and hope you will reconsider your decision in this regard going forward.

    Sincerely,

    Vickie Fightmaster
    Human Resources Manager
    totes»ISOTONER

  4. Sent to: customeraffairs@totes.com

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I read, in disbelief, the decision of the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the termination of LaNisa Allen for taking breaks to pump breast milk for her baby.

    While the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision is reprehensible, the fact that totes>>ISOTONER Corporation would even consider firing a woman for pumping breast milk to feed her baby is truly appalling.

    I believe that consumers “vote” with their wallets every day, with every purchase we make. When we buy products we are “voting” not only for a particular product but we are sending a message to the companies that make and sell their products that we agree with their practices, we like the way they treat their employees, we like the way they treat the environment, etc…

    After having surgery on my hand, I have been wearing an Isotoner Therapeutic Glove for 9 months or so. The news of this decision has come at an opportune time, I was just about to buy another glove but now hearing this news, I vote NO on products from totes>>ISOTONER Corporation.

    With Disgust,
    Christy Bannister

  5. To Whom it May Concern;

    After reading the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that in favor of your company firing an employee because of her choice to breastfeed her child, I will never purchase your products again. A company that has as many women customers as yours should understand the benefit of supporting your employees in making healthy choices. I support companies that support American family values; Totes is not that kind of company so my family will be boycotting your products.

    Sincerely

  6. I write a post about this on BSB. Salon picks it and the Dispatch article up and writes about it. Ohio blogger blogs about Salon article.

    The circle is complete.

    What’s particularly shocking is that the decision was written by a female justice.

    I say we look for a legislative response.

  7. This is too freakin’ unreal. I have to admit to never having been a fan of Isotoners, so my not buying them henceforth is no great shakes. But my beloved Totes? Eeeeek. Guess I’ll have to switch to buying something like, I don’t know, Shamwow, as the gift to give to those I don’t know so well.

  8. Another native Ohioan and breastfeeding mother, chiming in. I am very distressed at the court’s decision. It seems completely gender biased. Hope it was worth it, Totes/Isotoner.

  9. I would love to lay out a strong logical comment pertaining to the idiocy of the state of Ohio and Isotoner but reading about this pretty much made my brain explode with rage.

  10. I find it amazing that people can get authorized smoke breaks in the this country, you know, to fill their lungs with black tar, but God forbid they want to pump their breasts to feed their kids – which just so happens to be recommended by the APA and WHO up to at least the age of 1 and 2, respectively.

  11. Mom101

    I hate the blame the victim stuff too. I didn’t actually read the case, because really, I just don’t have time, however I do appreciate the clarification. Thank you!

    In that case, Isotoner really screwed up. I’m sure they have had chances to settle plenty of times, this is just going to cost them more money.

  12. Appreciate the devil’s advocate Tricia (which is often my role!) but a case doesn’t get to the supreme court from the court of appeals because the defendant lies about a wrongful termination.

    If you read the judgment (it’s fun reading, about 16 pages) she was indeed terminated for taking unauthorized lactation breaks for two weeks. And the dissenting justice argued that she had the right, considering no other employee needed authorization for any other kind of break, and therefore yes, this was discriminatory.

    Sorry, I hate the blame the victim stuff. Even speculatively.

  13. I do have to add though that maybe her lawsuit is her way of taking advantage. Maybe she wasn’t a good employee and they were trying to fire her and she struck back with the only way she knew how.

    Just playing devil’s advocate. I’ve seen the crazy lawsuits employees can bring against a corporation when there was no ill treatment.

  14. This is just ridiculous and so much harder to understand coming from California.
    In Calif. employers have to be able to provide a place for pumping. I was a restaurant manager and our employees sure appreciated it.

    Ohio needs to take a good long look at what this really means for it’s female workforce, as well as Isotoner.

    Note to self–no Isotoner slippers

  15. “Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination.”

    Unless there’s even ONE man whose ever been fired for breastfeeding? Then it pretty obviously DOES discriminate against gender.

    As a woman who couldn’t breastfeed and had to use formula (not the place for the debate) I can with 100% certainty tell the court that lactation is most definitely related to pregnancy.

    Am I far off in guessing that a male justice wrote that absurd opinion? Yeah, didn’t think so.

  16. Pardon me while I pick my mouth up off the floor.

    Just call me target market–I, too, often succumb to the Totes/Isotoner holiday shopping siren song and I know where I will NOT be spending my money this year.

    This decision is outrageous. Hope it was worth it, Totes.

  17. ALL women lactate following pregnancy. It’s a natural part of the process. The fact that not all women CHOOSE to breastfeed in the United States is directly connected to the anti-baby and breastfeeding policies and attitudes against breastfeeding women such as Totes/Isotoners and the Ohio Supreme Court.

  18. I wonder what Totes/Isotoner saved firing a woman to avoid several months of 2 15 minute breaks a day.

    And then I wonder what it will cost to try and buy back all that goodwill from the public.

    I’m guessing the math won’t add up.

  19. Hmmm funny that I was pregnant before giving birth to my daughter and then subsequently breastfeeding her for a year. Must have been some random weird coincidence…

    Sorry Isotoner- bad choice- I am no longer a customer.

  20. Breastfeeding isn’t connected to pregnancy? Really? Oh, right, because we women just spontaneously lactate so we can get out of work and go do something really fun like hook ourselves up to a milking machine.

  21. And just like that, no money from my bank account will ever be used to purchase Isotoner or Totes products. It’s not company discrimination it’s really bad decision making discrimination.

  22. “Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination.”

    I’m sorry, but when was the last time you saw a man breastfeeding a baby? Who cares if they rule that breastfeeding is not pregnancy related? Pregnancy is not the only female-specific thing that can be discriminated against. Until men start lactating and breastfeeding, breastfeeding discrimination IS gender discrimination.

  23. It sickens me that people can take smoking breaks at regular intervals during the day, but this woman gets fired for doing something healthy for herself and her baby.

    And also, “Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination”? Really? When was the last time these people saw a man nursing a baby? Unbelievable.

  24. I am so blinded with disbelief and anger my first instinct is to go get my isotoners (which are still packed away for the summer), put them in an envelope and mail them back. I’ll add a note that says,
    “You don’t want my gender, I don’t want your product.
    Kindly Suckit.
    Former customer and lactater,
    Meghan Harvey”

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a company do. Especially because where I live, California, this kind of thing IS against the law.

Comments are closed.