You would think we would have learned by now that breastfeeding discrimination is illegal, but some employers are slower to learn than others. One Indiana mom claims that she was wrongfully fired from her seasonal job after refusing to pump breast milk in a truly undesirable location.
Erika Zinn was excited to find seasonal work at Rural King in Shelbyville, Indiana. Unfortunately for Zinn, her new job lasted only a few days. The new mother believes that she was wrongfully terminated after refusing to use the restroom to pump breast milk for her 11-month-old daughter.
According to Zinn, she was clear about her breastfeeding needs when she was hired. Zinn explained to FOX59, “I brought that up immediately in my orientation explaining that… if I work over four hours, I need to pump. I need to have milk at home for her. She won’t take formula.”
Zinn was later told by a manager that she needed to use the restroom to pump breast milk during her break. Thankfully, Zinn refused this disgusting suggestion with the sound logic that she would not prepare her daughter’s food in the same room where someone used the toilet. Zinn was then told by a coworker that she could pump breast milk in a fitting room, and she was happy to comply.
But not a few days later, the same restroom request was made. Zinn again refused to pump milk in a dirty facility. She was fired later that day due to issues with her availability. Since her availability did not change during employment, Zinn believes she was fired because of where she refused to pump.
This kind of story would be laughable if it didn’t keep happening so much. What makes an employer think, “Here, gather your precious bodily fluids that you will then use to feed your baby in one of the dirtiest places in the building,” is beyond me. I would never even bring food into a restroom. I certainly wouldn’t want to pump my baby’s food there.
You might remember a few similar breastfeeding horror stories that have happened to mothers in just the past year: The breastfeeding mom who was told to go outside or sit in a corner by a Michaels employee. The Sam’s Club employee who refused to print “obscene” photos of a nursing mom. An IHOP manager’s suggestion that a breastfeeding mom cover up by placing a dishrag over her infant’s head.
Clearly, we have a very long way to go before breastfeeding is normalized and respected. As for Zinn, she has filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Labor. As for the rest of the employers out there, it’s time to get a clue about breastfeeding rights and stop discriminating.