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Saturday, April 21, 2007Wow. Gotta say, I'm proud to live in Ohio today. (Well, actually I am most
days...just not when we're playing UofF in national championship games...)
Jake Marcus from Birth Without Boundaries just sent me this from today's Columbus Dispatch:
For the first time, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has found probable cause that a woman was discriminated against for trying to breast-feed.
Anna Swank of Blacklick filed a complaint Aug. 29, the same day she attempted to breast-feed her then-6 month-old son, Levi, in the Kids' Club at Lifestyle Family Fitness, 5929 E. Main St., after exercising.
Swank, 33, said she was feeding Levi when a manager told her that it was inappropriate, and that if she did it again her Kids' Club privileges would be revoked. She was told to go to a locker room.
The finding against the fitness company upholds women's right to access to public places, said G. Michael Payton, executive director of the commission.
"Only females breast-feed their babies," he said. "Therefore, rules and regulations which create a hardship or burden to providing nourishment in commonly accepted ways violates the public accommodation provision on the basis of sex."
Ohio's breastfeeding in public law went into effect two years ago and though there have been some incidents with mothers breastfeeding in public, this is the first one to go this far through the system.
So what's up next?
The Civil Rights Commission will next attempt to resolve the matter with the fitness company through conciliation. No meetings have been scheduled, Payton said. If that effort fails, the commission will issue a formal complaint that the attorney general's office will prosecute in an administrative hearing.
Wonder what all that means and why I'm so happy?
Well, I'm working on confirming this with some Ohio lawyers, but basically, it looks like this judge's ruling will provide a case history to count breastfeeding as a protected class. That then means that moms that are harassed can actually file discrimination charges and that businesses will face the same legal penalties that they would face if they had discriminated against someone based on race or gender.
In other words, Ohio would have one heckofa tough breastfeeding law.