Carl Monday Investigation: Fired for Breastfeeding - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Carl Monday Investigation: Fired for Breastfeeding

When Hannah Boxley got her new job, she faced the same anxieties many moms face, not the least of which was, how do I continue to breast feed my child?

Hannah was just hired at Elgin Furniture, a long time fixture in the community. So she figured she'd have no problem pumping breast milk during her assigned breaks.  But two hours into her first day on the job, she was called into the office by a manager, who told her they couldn't accommodate her request to pump milk.  So, with $25 in cash, they sent Hannah packing and out the door and out of a job.  Just like that.

"I was shocked," says Hannah. "I started putting my coat on thinking, did this really happen?"

Under the Affordable Care Act, and the Fair Labor Standard Act, all employers must give all women employees reasonable accommodations to breast feed or pump milk. (Smaller companies may be exempt, but they must file a formal appeal.)

Civil Rights Attorney Avery Friedman says what Elgin did is both "morally and legally wrong."  The Local Chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women called it "Appalling and Illegal."

Elgin owner Jed Brenner told Carl Monday they just didn't have the appropriate space in their 89,000 square foot showroom and warehouse.  But just hours later, after consulting their attorney, Brenner said they sent a letter to Boxley, offering her job back. "It was the proper thing to do," said Brenner.

But Boxley isn't sure she wants her job back, and has filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Attorney Friedman says the lesson here is "companies have to stop looking at young moms who are lactating as an annoyance or a reason to get rid of somebody. We're a civil society, and we don't do things that way."

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