December 2, 2014
DENVER – The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Ashley Provino, a Grand Junction woman who was fired from her job, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, for asserting her right to pump breast milk at work.
Provino, a new mother, requested permission from her employer, Big League Haircuts, to take a short break every four hours in the back room of the hair salon to express breast milk, as is her right under state and federal law. The company denied Provino’s request and cut her hours dramatically. When Provino requested to be returned to a full-time schedule with breaks so she could pump breast milk and continue breastfeeding her child, she was fired.
“Colorado law ensures that no mother is forced to choose between breastfeeding her baby and keeping her job,” said ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Rebecca T. Wallace. “Employers should have no say in a mother’s personal family decision of whether to breastfeed her baby.”
Colorado’s Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, passed by the state legislature in 2008, unequivocally recognizes the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding and requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to allow new mothers to express milk at work. The ACLU complaint invokes the 2008 statute, as well as federal laws that require workplace accommodations for nursing mothers and prohibit sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for protesting such discrimination.
“Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it is also bad for Colorado families and businesses, because it forces women out of the workplace,” said ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorney Paula Greisen of King Greisen LLP.
Women who breastfeed must pump milk regularly throughout the day to ensure that they will keep lactating. A broad consensus exists among medical and public health experts that breastfeeding is optimal for infants following birth, and that breastfeeding has broad developmental, psychological, social, economic and environmental benefits.
In September 2012, the ACLU of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project successfully negotiated a settlement with a Jefferson County charter school on behalf of Heather Burgbacher, a teacher who lost her job after she requested accommodations to express breast milk at work. The ACLU of Colorado also worked with DISH Network earlier this year to vastly improve accommodations for nursing mothers at the company’s corporate headquarters in Englewood following complaints from employees that the conditions provided by the company lacked adequate space and privacy.
View the ACLU compliant at: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Provino-Complaint-and-Jury-Demand.pdf
For more information on this case, please visit: http://aclu-co.org/court-cases/provino-v-big-league-haircuts/