Tuesday, June 4, 2013
In a published opinion, the a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel last week, in a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC, reversed summary judgment for an employer that allegedly discharged an employee for expressing milk while at work. The lower court earlier found, as a matter of law, that discharging a lactating female employee for expressing milk does not constitute sex discrimination. The Fifth Circuit held that discriminating against a woman who is lactating or expressing breast milk violates federal sex discrimination laws.
The opinion is EEOC v. Houston Funding II., Ltd., No. 12-20220 (5th Cir., May 30, 2013). The opinion, by Judge Grady Jolly, was unanamous, with Judge Edith Jones concurring. The Houston Chronicle's story on the case adds this interesting tid-bit.
"You would think there would be reported case law on this," said Jim Sacher, regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Houston, which is handling the case and its appeal on behalf of Venters.
But this is the first definitive decision in the country that firing someone because of lactation is an example of sex discrimination, Sacher said.