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(Delta Nurse-In) Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination

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  • Janice Reynolds
    (Delta Nurse-In) Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination _____ Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 27, 2008

      (Delta Nurse-In) Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination


      Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination

      http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080327/NEWS02/803270305/1007



      Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008
      By Sky Barsch
      Burlington Free Press Correspondent

      A Vermont Human Rights Commission investigator has found reasonable grounds that Freedom Airlines discriminated against Emily Gillette, the mother who was removed from a Delta/Freedom airlines flight departing Burlington International Airport after she refused a flight attendant's order to cover up while breast-feeding.

      The investigator's findings will be used by the Human Rights Commission, which meets today to hear the case, said Beth Boepple, a Manchester-based attorney who represents Gillette. The hearing is closed to the public.

      Neither Delta nor Freedom returned calls seeking comment.

      Breast-feeding is protected under Vermont's Public Accommodations Act. Mothers can breast-feed anywhere in public and are not required to "cover up."

      Gillette, 28, is in Vermont for the first time since the incident occurred more than 17 months ago to appear before the Human Rights Commission. She said it was not mandatory for her to appear, but she wanted to be there.

      "I feel really grateful, still, for the way the state's set up. And I feel like it's really important for us to show up as a sign of gratitude for everything the state has done to uphold its laws, and to show up for the commission, who have put so much time and effort into investigating this case," Gillette said.

      "I have so much trust and confidence in the state's ability do the right thing and follow through with their processes."

      If the commission agrees that discrimination has occurred on Freedom's part, the parties have six months to negotiate a settlement. A separate complaint against Delta in the matter is pending. The commission is expected to make a decision today after the hearing.

      On Oct. 13, 2006, Gillette; her husband, Brad; and their then 22-month-old daughter, River, were on their way from Vermont to visit family in New York. The family lives in New Mexico and was visiting family in Vermont, where Brad grew up.

      The family was seated on Delta Flight 6160, a code-shared flight with Freedom Airlines, awaiting takeoff. The flight was delayed for three hours, and about 10 p.m. it appeared that it was nearing takeoff.

      Gillette said she was seated in the second-to-last row, next to the window, when she began to breast-feed her daughter. Breast-feeding helps babies with the altitude changes through takeoff and landings, Gillette said. She said she was being discreet -- her husband was seated between her and the aisle -- and no part of her breast was showing.

      Gillette said a flight attendant approached her, trying to hand her a blanket and directing her to cover up. Gillette said she told the attendant she was exercising her legal right to breast-feed, declining the blanket. Gillette alleges the attendant told her, "You are offending me," and told her to cover her daughter's head with the blanket.

      "I declined," Gillette said in her complaint. Moments later, a Delta ticket agent approached the Gillettes and said the flight attendant was having the family removed from the flight. Gillette exited the plane, crying.

      Gillette, through Boepple, soon filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. News of the incident spread quickly, serving as a springboard for a discussion about breast-feeding. Several Vermont women staged a "nurse-in" near the Delta check-in area at Burlington International Airport, and a week later, breast-feeding supporters and advocates staged a national nurse-in at Delta counters across the country.

      The investigation report found that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe Freedom Airlines -- which operates connector flights for Delta -- discriminated against Gillette, Boepple said. The investigator did not find grounds to hold Delta accountable, however, because Delta successfully argued that Freedom was operating as an independent contractor. Boepple has filed a response asking for that to be amended, because she argues that Freedom was acting as an agent for Delta.

      While Gillette is in Vermont, she is speaking at Vermont Law School, meeting with the Chittenden County Breastfeeding Coalition and appearing on a radio program. She purposefully did not fly Delta.

      She brought her family, including her 4-month-old son, Donovan.

      "It's really fun to come back and be breast-feeding again," Gillette said. "What am I going to do when I come to Vermont and I'm not breast-feeding?" she quipped.

       

    • Jake Marcus
      I ve just received word that the Vermont Human Relations Commission has issued its final ruling this afternoon and, while it found that Freedom/Mesa
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 27, 2008
        I've just received word that the Vermont Human Relations Commission has issued its final ruling this afternoon and, while it found that Freedom/Mesa discriminated against Emily Gillette, Delta was not liable because of an "independent contractor" agreement with Freedom/Mesa. In short, despite the fact that Emily contracted with Delta, her ticket and all her documents said Delta, she had no knowledge of any relationship Delta had with Freedom/Mesa, and she had no control over the plane on which Delta stuck her, Delta will not be held responsible in any way by the Vermont Human Relations Commission for what was done to the Gillette family.

        The Burlington Free Press article has an important error, by the way. There is NO currently pending action against Delta other than this one from which Delta has just been released.

        To my knowledge, Emily's lawyer and Emily have not yet decided their next move against Delta but this is a major setback and further evidence that Delta has learned nothing from these events. Delta has fought the Gillettes tooth and nail throughout this claim and no doubt will continue to do so.

        Jake Marcus
         
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 9:59 AM
        Subject: [lactivism] (Delta Nurse-In) Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination

        (Delta Nurse-In) Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination


        Investigator finds evidence of breast-feeding discrimination

        http://www.burlingt onfreepress. com/apps/ pbcs.dll/ article?AID= /20080327/ NEWS02/803270305 /1007



        Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008
        By Sky Barsch
        Burlington Free Press Correspondent

        A Vermont Human Rights Commission investigator has found reasonable grounds that Freedom Airlines discriminated against Emily Gillette, the mother who was removed from a Delta/Freedom airlines flight departing Burlington International Airport after she refused a flight attendant's order to cover up while breast-feeding.

        The investigator' s findings will be used by the Human Rights Commission, which meets today to hear the case, said Beth Boepple, a Manchester-based attorney who represents Gillette. The hearing is closed to the public.

        Neither Delta nor Freedom returned calls seeking comment.

        Breast-feeding is protected under Vermont's Public Accommodations Act. Mothers can breast-feed anywhere in public and are not required to "cover up."

        Gillette, 28, is in Vermont for the first time since the incident occurred more than 17 months ago to appear before the Human Rights Commission. She said it was not mandatory for her to appear, but she wanted to be there.

        "I feel really grateful, still, for the way the state's set up. And I feel like it's really important for us to show up as a sign of gratitude for everything the state has done to uphold its laws, and to show up for the commission, who have put so much time and effort into investigating this case," Gillette said.

        "I have so much trust and confidence in the state's ability do the right thing and follow through with their processes."

        If the commission agrees that discrimination has occurred on Freedom's part, the parties have six months to negotiate a settlement. A separate complaint against Delta in the matter is pending. The commission is expected to make a decision today after the hearing.

        On Oct. 13, 2006, Gillette; her husband, Brad; and their then 22-month-old daughter, River, were on their way from Vermont to visit family in New York. The family lives in New Mexico and was visiting family in Vermont, where Brad grew up.

        The family was seated on Delta Flight 6160, a code-shared flight with Freedom Airlines, awaiting takeoff. The flight was delayed for three hours, and about 10 p.m. it appeared that it was nearing takeoff.

        Gillette said she was seated in the second-to-last row, next to the window, when she began to breast-feed her daughter. Breast-feeding helps babies with the altitude changes through takeoff and landings, Gillette said. She said she was being discreet -- her husband was seated between her and the aisle -- and no part of her breast was showing.

        Gillette said a flight attendant approached her, trying to hand her a blanket and directing her to cover up. Gillette said she told the attendant she was exercising her legal right to breast-feed, declining the blanket. Gillette alleges the attendant told her, "You are offending me," and told her to cover her daughter's head with the blanket.

        "I declined," Gillette said in her complaint. Moments later, a Delta ticket agent approached the Gillettes and said the flight attendant was having the family removed from the flight. Gillette exited the plane, crying.

        Gillette, through Boepple, soon filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. News of the incident spread quickly, serving as a springboard for a discussion about breast-feeding. Several Vermont women staged a "nurse-in" near the Delta check-in area at Burlington International Airport, and a week later, breast-feeding supporters and advocates staged a national nurse-in at Delta counters across the country.

        The investigation report found that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe Freedom Airlines -- which operates connector flights for Delta -- discriminated against Gillette, Boepple said. The investigator did not find grounds to hold Delta accountable, however, because Delta successfully argued that Freedom was operating as an independent contractor. Boepple has filed a response asking for that to be amended, because she argues that Freedom was acting as an agent for Delta.

        While Gillette is in Vermont, she is speaking at Vermont Law School, meeting with the Chittenden County Breastfeeding Coalition and appearing on a radio program. She purposefully did not fly Delta.

        She brought her family, including her 4-month-old son, Donovan.

        "It's really fun to come back and be breast-feeding again," Gillette said. "What am I going to do when I come to Vermont and I'm not breast-feeding?" she quipped.

         

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