Should Mom Sue Employer for Not Letting Her Take a Breastfeeding Break?
A new mom was fired from her job after she refused to return to work after maternity leave when she was told she was not able to tack an extra 15 minutes onto her break in order to breastfeed her baby. Kate Abra Frederick worked as a child support officer with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and normally, she was allowed a 15-minute break. But being that her son refused to take a bottle, Kate wanted a little more time so she could run over to a daycare that was two minutes from her job. Her employer said no, and now Kate has filed suit with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
I don't think that moms deserve special treatment or extra rights just because they have kids. But I do think that, while we're constantly being bombarded with messages of how "breast is best", the United States sure doesn't make it easy for nursing moms. Especially nursing moms who have jobs.
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The pressure of returning to work after you have a baby is enormous. It's a low-grade anxiety that constantly sits in the back of your mind during your maternity leave. And I can't imagine how a mother whose baby refuses a bottle would feel. The stress is unimaginable. Some women are blessed with employers who are understanding and helpful to breastfeeding mothers, but many aren't. And in the case of Kate Abra Fredrick, she basically was forced to choose between her job and her child. And when faced with those two options, the decision is easy. But it had to have been infuriating.
If Kate's employer had granted her the extra 15 minutes and she began taking advantage of it, that wouldn't have been right. I assume her intent in asking was to help make her return -- for both herself and her baby -- easier. When her son eventually learned to eat from a bottle, I'm guessing she would have just given him pumped breast milk. Offering no leeway on something like this is just ridiculous and gave her no other choice but to quit. She was asking for 15 minutes, not an hour.
Breast may be best, but it sure isn't easiest. Wow.
Do you think Kate should have been granted the extra 15 minutes?