The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 yesterday against LaNisa Allen, who filed a discrimination complaint after being fired from her job at Totes/Isotoner because she took unauthorized breaks to pump breast milk. Her suit alleged that the company violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The court’s ruling (see PDF) affirmed the ruling of a lower court, which determined that Allen “was simply and plainly terminated as an employee at will for taking an unauthorized, extra break” and failing to “follow directions.” The Court failed to address the question of whether lactation falls within the scope of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote “The appellate court does not explain why Allen’s trips to the restroom outside scheduled break times were different from the restroom trips other employees made outside scheduled break times. There is no evidence in the record about any limit on the length of unscheduled restroom breaks and no evidence that employees had to seek permission from a supervisor to take an unscheduled restroom break. There is evidence only that unscheduled bathroom breaks were allowed and that LaNisa Allen was fired for taking them. What made her breaks different?”