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Flight Attendant Mothers Win Case Against EasyJet

British low-cost carrier found to discriminate against mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding

Two mothers who work as flight attendants for British low-cost carrier EasyJet can continue to work special duty as they take care of their children thanks to a court ruling in their favor. Britain’s Daily Mail reports that the airline has been ordered to allow mothers to work ground shifts or shorter air shifts, in order to express milk after their maternity leave expires.

The suit was brought before an employment tribunal by two new mothers, Cynthia McFarlane and Sara Ambacher, with support from their union. The two women alleged that the airline was discriminating against their rights under the Employment Rights Act by not offering them ground-based duties immediately after their maternity leave to continue breastfeeding, or limiting their air crew hours so they could continue to express milk between shifts.

The airline initially rejected their requests, noting their maternity leave after giving birth to their respective children. After multiple appeals, the airline allowed both women to work ground duties for six months, with refusal to extend any further afterwards. When the airline would not budge any further, the women took their case to an employment tribunal.

In the ruling, the judges sided with the attendants, claiming that setting a time limit on their breastfeeding periods would be discrimination against them. Legal representatives for their union call the ruling a major win, saying it could have implications for all new mothers who work with airlines.

“It is a ground-breaking victory which has wider implications for all working women particularly those in atypical workplaces like cabin crew,” Nicky Marcus, legal officer for the Unite union, told the Daily Mail. “The days of ‘I’m going back to work so I will have to give up breastfeeding’ are over.”

In response to the ruling, a spokesperson for EasyJet told the Daily Mail they would review their policies to allow mothers to breastfeed after their maternity leave.

[Photo: easyJet]

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2 Comments
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alphaod October 3, 2016

What about fathers? Do they get paternity leave as well?

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FlyingNone October 1, 2016

Breastfeeding can go on as long as five years - is an exception going to made for that long if the mother(s) wishes ?