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Monday, June 23, 2008

Breastfeeding? You're disabled.

When doing some research, I just came accross a website, which has different cases which were brought to court. One of the cases was about a lady in Ontario (I believe), who asked her work to accomodate her to be able to breastfeed her baby. Although this case happened in early 90' and lots of things has changed since, it still includes some very present issues.

This lady asked to have your working hours shortened by 1 hour, which was denied even though she wouldn't get paid, and they were in constant hiring mode (which shows that hers would not be the only vacant place in the company and her leaving one hour earlier would not be the only problem this company was having). Next, she tried to ask to at least be able to finish at 4 pm the latest to get home in time (doable, but brings lots of stress, like traffic, delay at work etc) to feed her baby at 4.30 pm. For the record, he was born with a heart problem and breastfeeding was recommended as long as possible to build up his immunity.

So back to her work, instead of simply accomodating this very simple request of a breastfeeding mother, they gave her a really hard time. They advised her, that she has to get (lots of) medical notes from her doctor, and basically turned her case into disability. She had to be going to the doctor and her papers were sent to a insurance company her work had a Disability contract with.

So when brought to the court, the judge had some very smart conclusions: Breastfeeding is not a disability and such as she shouldn't be harassed and her work shouldn't demand medical notes. It was a gender discrimination, as breastfeeding only occurs with women, not the men. Then her company pointed that this lady never submitted any proof that her baby was sick and needs breastfeeding.

What does it matter if the baby is healthy or not? World Health organization has been working so hard for the last 4 decates to promote breastfeeding around the world, yet a huge company in the heart of Canada doesn't respect it? Anyone has a right to breastfeed her baby should she choose to do so, healthy or not. It really does not matter.

Unfortunately, these days, the companies demand absolute flexibility from the employees, but fail to accomodate their simplest requests. They employ incapable supervisors and managers who do not know what to do so instead they make their own rules to show their power. And that is still happening in many, many companies around the world.

If you would like to read the whole case (its very long) you can at:

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