Breastfeeding discrimination considered unlawful sex discrimination in courts

Discrimination against a woman for breastfeeding is officially considered sex discrimination. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled May 31 that, “firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Breastfeeding is the most natural way for a mother to provide her baby with the proper nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Breast milk contains antibodies and hormones which build the baby’s immune system, protecting it from illness and disease. It can also be life saving — babies born prematurely are given breast milk as it is easier to digest and contains essential nutrients formula cannot supply.

Organizations that aim to ensure the protection of breastfeeding women exist nationwide, such as the United States Breastfeeding Committee. In the state of Florida, the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc. was established in 2008 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding women. Locally, the Northeast Florida Breastfeeding Collaborative, a network of health care professionals and organizations in the region, began in 2009 to promote breastfeeding and its duration among women.

The Florida Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and started in 2010) encouraged workplace support for breastfeeding as part of its goal to improve nutrition statewide. The CPPW program did so by increasing the number of school districts and state agencies that provided work-site breastfeeding support for employees. The CPPW program was completed in June of 2012.