Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lactating Women Need Not Apply

Jill's comment a few posts below reminds me that I'd intended to discuss the Ohio Supreme Court's appalling decision in Allen v. totes/Isotoner. (By the way, if you're not reading Jill's blog, you should be--although she's on hiatus until after Election Day, as she's busy running for Pepper Pike City Council.) In its opinion, of which no member of our highest court was willing to claim authorship, a three-member plurality found that an employer could lawfully fire a lactating mother because she took extra bathroom breaks in order to pump her breasts. Two members of the court went a step further, writing that post-pregnancy lactation isn't really related to pregnancy, and thus not covered under Ohio's Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The decision is now two weeks old, so I'm not sure my own discussion would advance much debate. So instead, go read Jill's excellent posts (here and here) on the decision. I'll just add this: each time we insist that a judicial candidate prove his or her allegiance to "pro-business" interest groups, we demand opinions like the one our court handed us in toner/Isotoner. This is the quintessential "pro-business" opinion, in that it expands an employer's power to fire an employee at the expense of Ohioans' civil rights. It's a stark reminder that "pro-business" isn't always good for Ohio. (To be clear: I'm not implying that any of our Supreme Court justices are inherently biased or unfair to litigants. But when we're willing to accept only a narrow range of credentials for our successful candidates, we wind up with a narrow range of viewpoints on our courts.)

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