A federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling which found that a nursing mother, a Tuscaloosa, Ala. police officer, was discriminated against when she was demoted to patrol duty just after her return from maternity leave, making it difficult for her to pump breast milk for her newborn.
Besides being unable to find a suitable place to pump while on patrol, officer Stephanie Hicks complained that the tight bulletproof vest required for safety was painful and interfered with milk production. Hicks’ son was born in 2012. She resigned January 2013 and filed a federal lawsuit in November 2013.
In 2016, a federal court in Alabama awarded her $374,000 in damages, finding that the department violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by not changing her duties to accommodate her breast-feeding. Thursday’s ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the idea that women who are breast-feeding are protected under Title VII, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination on the job.