Six years ago, Emily Gillette of Santa Fe, N.M., was discreetly nursing her 1-year-old daughter, River, on board a Delta connection flight from Burlington, Vt., bound for New York when she was booted from the plane for refusing to cover her baby's head with a blanket. Gillette left that flight in tears, but the incident was far from over. When she finally got home, Gillette filed a complaint with Vermont's Human Rights Commission and then a lawsuit against Delta Airlines and two other airlines responsible for the flight.
Gillette's story went on to gain national attention, prompting "nurse-in" protests at 19 airports in November 2006. And now, finally, the incident is over as Gillette has reportedly reached a settlement with Delta, Freedom Airlines and Mesa Air Group.
"I am relieved that this long ordeal is now over but hope that the outcome is much more than a story about one case of discrimination," Gillette said in a statement. "I hope my experience and how I was treated helps raise awareness of this important health benefit for children and nursing mothers."
It's ridiculous that Gillette had to go through such an ordeal, yet cases just like this one continue to pop up around the country whenever a woman tries to breast-feed her baby in public. Just last month, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official forced a nursing mother to pump milk in a public restroom at a Hawaii airport. Apparently the agent was suspicious about the woman's breast pump
and empty milk bottles and wanted her to prove she was really going to fill them with her own milk. Seriously?
I'm hopeful that Gillette's lawsuit will at the very least draw more attention to the issue and force companies to review breast-feeding laws and policies with their employees.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable breast-feeding in public?