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Breastfeeding mothers win discrimination case against EasyJet

Two women have won a sex discrimination case against the airline EasyJet after it failed to accommodate their needs as breastfeeding mothers.

Cabin crew employees Sara Ambacher and Cynthia McFarlane were refused permission to express their milk during flights.

They then requested that they be allowed to do ground duties or that their flights be limited to eight hours so that they could express milk as advised by their doctors to prevent infections such as mastitis.

The company allowed them to do ground duties for six months but no longer. It also refused to restrict their shifts to eight hours because unforeseen flight delays could lead to them having to work beyond that time.

The Employment Tribunal in Bristol heard that managers searched the internet for “breastfeeding risks” before suggesting a number of solutions that were unworkable. EasyJet then disregarded the advice of four doctors, failed to carry out its own risk assessment and failed to send the women to be assessed by occupational health professionals.

The tribunal ruled that the company’s failure to accommodate the two women amounted to indirect sex discrimination and breached the Employment Rights Act.  It was also discriminatory to effectively limit the time the mothers could breastfeed to six months.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.