Vedder Thinking | News Aaron Gelb Quoted in Bloomberg Law Article Regarding Title VII
April 8, 2016
Shareholder Aaron R. Gelb was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article regarding a recent decision in the Northern District of Illinois, Tolene v. T-Mobile, USA, Inc., granting summary judgment to the employer. Among the questions presented to the court was whether breast-feeding constitutes a “protected activity” under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Declining to decide that issue, the court concluded that T-Mobile did not discriminate against its former employee when it failed to provide her with a private space to pump breast milk after approving her request to transfer to a different store following her return from pregnancy leave.
Mr. Gelb, addressing implications of the decision, believes that decision represents a “technical” victory for employers, in that even if the courts do not consistently conclude that expressing breast milk is a protected activity, taking action against a female employee because she is breast-feeding will nonetheless presumably violate Title VII . Either way, he adds that it is a “best practice” to treat requests for a place to pump in a manner similar to requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA. “It means engaging the employee in an interactive process in an effort to find a suitable arrangement,” said Mr. Gelb. “Let the process work its way out.”
To read the full article, click here (subscription required).