Ohio SC upholds new mother's firing

Chris Rizo Aug. 28, 2009, 2:54pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)-An Ohio company did not break the law when it fired a woman for taking unauthorized breaks to pump milk from her breasts, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.

The state high court found that the outerwear manufacturer Totes/Isotoner did not violate Ohio's Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it fired LaNisa Allen for taking lactation breaks.

Allen, who was taking breaks four hours into her shift, argued that she could not wait until five hours into her shift, when she was authorized a break, because her breasts began to ache.

The West Chester Twp., Ohio-based company said she failed to follow directions and fired her.

The Ohio Supreme Court said the company was within its rights to do so. Allen, then a 35-year-old general laborer at the company, was fired in August 2005.

The high court said Thursday that Allen being a lactating mother was not relevant to the case.

"In this case, the evidence in the record demonstrates that Allen took unauthorized breaks from her workstation, and Isotoner discharged her for doing so," the court ruled.

"Thus, the record as it was developed in the trial court fails to provide a basis from which a jury could conclude that Isotoner's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Allen's termination -- failure to follow directions - was a pretext for discrimination based on Allen's pregnancy or a condition related to her pregnancy."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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