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Working moms at Frontier Airlines want a place to pump

Working moms who return to their jobs following maternity leave face a litany of challenges, particularly those choosing to breastfeed their children.

Employees at Frontier Airlines are experiencing similar difficulties not caused by the rigors of balancing personal and professional responsibilities. They see their employer's policies more than challenges. They are outright obstacles.

Four pilots and two flight attendants have filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Commission, accusing Frontier Airlines of refusing to accommodate breast milk pumping on flights. The EEOC ruling will determine if they can pursue a lawsuit over discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth.

The women allege that the ban on pumping while on airplanes violates state and federal laws that protect pregnant and nursing women. To them, Frontier's policies are prohibitive as they often work 10 to 12-hour days with minimal breaks between flights.

Frontier disputes the discrimination claim, claiming that their rules are within the law. However, the company does admit to policies where seniority plays a role in providing flexibility to certain employees' schedules. Based on their years with the company, colleagues can swap flights based on their specific needs.

The employees who filed the complaint are asking for short-term assignments that allow women to extend maternity leave. Upon returning to work, they want Frontier to have designated areas on planes and in airports for employees to pump. Many employees claim that when they do have the time, the lack of available or even suitable pumping stations force them to go into non-sanitary areas, including closets and bathrooms.

Recent legal precedent may be on the side of the employees. A federal court judge ruled that an Alabama police officer had the right to quit over her employer not providing her a desk job while she was breastfeeding. Forced to wear a bulletproof vest while on patrol, she was unable to pump.

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