Donnicia Venters: Lactation Not Related to Pregnancy, Houston Federal Judge Rules

Not connected to pregnancy.
Not connected to pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes is likely about to become the butt of Internet merriment with the news of a recent decision.

He'll also be pissing off breast-feeding moms, and that is one group you do not want to cross, as many companies and entities have discovered to their dismay.

In a suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hughes ruled that a company can fire a breast-feeding woman because "lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition."

Texas companies cannot fire someone for being pregnant, but Hughes wrote of Donnicia Venters: "She gave birth on December 11, 2009. After that day, she was no longer pregnant and her pregnancy-related conditions ended."

Hughes added: "Firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sexual discrimination."

Good luck with that in the court of public opinion, judge. (Which is not a court Hughes has much cared about in his career, to be sure.)

Venters had worked for the debt-collection firm Houston Funding since 2006 and left for maternity leave in December 2009.

There was some contact between her and supervisors over when she would return, but the company eventually filled her position. She claimed they did so because she had mentioned the need to find a room to pump breast milk in, but the company said the decision was made before she mentioned that.

in the end the discrepancy was moot, because as Hughes ruled, breast milk has got nothing whatsoever to do with pregnancy.

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