How Dare He? Judge Says No to Breastfeeding

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 25, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Once again, someone has tried to deny a mother's right to breastfeed.

A Florida judge is in hot water after he refused to allow an attorney breaks during trial to pump breast milk.

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Last week, assistant public defender Marissa Altman Glatzer was in Judge Fred Seraphin's courtroom at the Miami-Dade County Court. Glatzer is currently breastfeeding. During a trial hearing, Glatzer requested a 15-minute break every three to four hours so that she could pump breast milk.

Glatzer didn't expect any trouble because two other judges had previously granted her similar requests. To her dismay, Judge Seraphin declared that he would not grant any trial breaks. His solution was to "just get another attorney to try the case."

Is the judge in the wrong? Does Glatzer have a right pump milk or breastfeed whenever she needs to?

Florida's Breastfeeding Laws

Florida's breastfeeding law states, "The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interest of maternal and child health. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."

Arguably, Glatzer has a right to bring the baby into court with her and breastfeed while she cross-examines a witness. However, does the judge have to allow her a break time to breastfeed or pump milk?

Federal Breastfeeding Laws

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, one of its provisions amended the Fair Labor Standards Act. The amendment required employers to provide an employee with reasonable break time to pump milk and a place to do so.

In this case, Judge Seraphin is not an employer, and Glatzer is not his employee. So, the FLSA provision does not apply.

However, Judge Seraphin should take note of the policy encouraging accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. Honestly, how much disturbance would a few 15-minute breaks have made on his trial? Didn't he need breaks too, or did he intend to sit in complete focus for eight hours straight?

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