Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TSA Breastmilk Lawsuit Results in Policy Change and Employee Training

If you're a breastfeeding mother on a flight & you don't have a cutie pie baby like this one with you, you'll need to pump and carry your breastmilk.  Thanks to Stacey Armato, hopefully moms can now do so without worrying that TSA officers will suggest they dump their liquid gold.

I can't tell you how many times I've read the suggestion that a breastfeeding mother who has been discriminated against should sue - or read claims that "I would sue if..."  The fact is, affording a lawyer is not so easy if you don't have several thousand dollars just lying around - and they're not lining up to do pro bono work after every NIP incident in the news, either.

BUT, Stacey Armato did manage to sue, & she won!  Well, settling may not technically be winning, but she got what she wanted out of the lawsuit.  In 2010 she was harassed by TSA agents over bringing her expressed breastmilk through security.  She said,
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk. Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”

The United States Transportation Security Administration settled, agreeing to clarify procedures, train officers, and to update its website so that pumping moms can know what to expect when traveling with breastmilk.  Oh - and they're making a donation to a breastfeeding advocacy group!

You can read more here.

I want to go off on a tangent here about some legislators worrying that the enforcement provision in HB 1706 would have resulted in a rash of frivolous lawsuits, and about the fact that $500 plus attorney fees - the cap the bill would have placed on the private cause of action it provided for - is hardly frivolous.  And that moms would not suddenly have a surplus of time and money for suing any more than a plethora of lawyers would suddenly want to work pro bono over $500.  I won't get into the fact that the enforcement provision would have served more as a warning than it would have been needed as a punishment.  But I'll just leave it at saying I'd be willing to bet you a Starbucks venti caramel frappuccino that TSA paid out more than attorney fees and 500 bucks.  

And yet the thing we're celebrating is the policy change and employee training!

1 comment:

  1. I am really glad to see this, but even knowing this I still hesitate SO much to bring expressed breastmilk through security if I can avoid it. I've done it before (with baby with me) and it's been fine, but there seem to be so many situations where TSA has a policy but it is not always followed. I would be a WRECK if they made me dump my breastmilk :(