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Breastfeeding at Work Controversy

Mom Fired For Asking to Breastfeed

A New Hampshire mom is collecting unemployment benefits and has filed a grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against her former employer because she was terminated for not returning to work after her maternity leave when he refused to let her breastfeed during the workday, the Boston Globe reports.

The Affordable Care Act and state laws require most employers to allow women to pump milk during the workday, but not breastfeed. However, Kate Abra Frederick says her son would not take a bottle, so she had be physically be with him for his feeding.

Frederick requested that her employer, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in Conway, allow her to take a 30-minute break from work, instead of the typical 15 minutes, so that she could go to her son’s daycare center, located less than two minutes away, and breastfeed her baby. In exchange for the extended break time, she offered to stay later at work. Her employer denied the request and terminated her when she didn’t comply with their rules.

Jake Marcus, a Philadelphia lawyer and national breastfeeding advocate, told the news agency that "the legal distinction between pumping and feeding [is] 'absurd.'" Yet he agrees that legally "the employer can often dictate what the employee does on a break."

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