On Tuesday, a group of female pilots have filed a complaint against Frontier Airlines, alleging that they've been discriminated against as breastfeeding mothers.
According to the Huffington Post, the legal document, filed with help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to suffering physical harm as a result of the airline's discriminatory practices, the pilots feared losing their jobs for expressing breast milk on duty. (No, not while actually flying in an airplane.)
First officer Shannon Keidrowski said in her complaint that human resources personnel told her they "weren't comfortable" with her plan to pump breastmilk in the airplane bathroom or in the airport during a layover.
ACLU senior staff attorney Galen Sherwin told the Huffington Post that these layovers are typically only 45 minutes long, during which pilots still have work-related tasks to complete. While some airports have lactation rooms, it can be impossible to make it to and from them in time for takeoff.
Keidrowski suggested Frontier Airlines follow the steps of other major airlines, many of which allow for a maternity leave long enough for mothers to finish breastfeeding.
For a natural physiological process by which mothers feed their children, breastfeeding can be unnecessarily contentious. Breastfeeding mothers have been asked to leave establishments or have simply been shamed for nursing their children in public. Many moms have stuck it to sexists before, but others can't afford to — because their jobs are at stake.
In an official statement from the airline shared by the Huffington Post, representatives insisted they're doing their best to support new mothers, given the "unique circumstances" working for an airline may present.
"While there are many work places that might allow for nursing mothers to express breastmilk during a break from work activities, the duties of a commercial airline pilot present unique circumstances," wrote a spokesperson. "We have made good-faith efforts to identify and provide rooms and other secure locations for use by breastfeeding pilots during their duty travel."