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Teacher sues California school district for discrimination

There's no question that women have gained a lot of ground over the past several decades when it comes to equal rights in the workplace. While battles continue over issues such as equal pay for equal work, women and their legal and political allies have successfully fought against widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against those who seek time off to have children. For example, all women now have the right to maternity leave, thanks to the efforts of those from earlier generations.

Unfortunately, discrimination against women still exists in some workplaces, even in this day and age. It may be hard for some to believe, but many employers continually fail to recognize the needs and rights of female employees, particularly those who are mothers or wish to raise a family. In one current case, a former teacher is suing the California school district that used to employ her.

The plaintiff, who was a new mother when the discrimination occurred, claims that officials at the school where she worked refused to accommodate her needs when it came to breastfeeding. Before she returned to work from maternity leave, she told her manager that she required approximately 15 minutes every day to use a breast pump. Despite the fact that breastfeeding or pumping is a biological necessity for any woman who has recently given birth, the manager declined to allow her to do so. Instead, the manager told her to train her body not to produce milk during work hours, and the district refused to accommodate her.

Not long after that exchange, the teacher was given a negative performance evaluation and encouraged to quit her job. As a result, she's suing the school and the district for discrimination and wrongful termination.

The teacher's case points out an unfortunate reality: Even today, the rights of women in the workplace are not always recognized. In these situations, female employees must not be afraid to insist that employment laws are upheld in the places where they work. Doing so may not only result in fair treatment at work; it will also ensure that future generations of women will be able to enjoy the very same rights.

Source: U-T San Diego, "Former Calif. Teacher Sues District Over Breastfeeding," Nov. 15, 2012

• Our firm handles a wide range of discrimination cases and other employment law issues. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Southern California employment law page.