SureBaby Blog

Breastfeeding Officer Forced to Take Unpaid Leave by Washington D.C. Police Department

Posted by bridget

As part of a general push to get healthy officers who might be costing on injury or sick leave back on the street, the Washington D.C. police department has started pushing lactating female officers back on to their beats, despite the fact that wearing a bullet proof vest while lactating is both painful and potentially dangerous because it can lead to clogged milk ducts.

Officer Sashay Brown used all of her sick days this year giving birth to her second child.  When she returned to work she was put on desk duty, because lactating mothers have trouble with protective vests.  Soon, however, she was forced back on to the street and into her bullet proof vest.  She went to the department doctor, who agreed with her that she was medically unfit for street details.  Unfortunately, the department has refused to let her stay at a desk, forcing her to take unpaid leave since she is out of sick days.

"Because of my condition, I am unable to wear my [bulletproof] vest," Brown wrote in her June 12 request to be detailed back to her station on limited duty. "Wearing my vest is extremely painful and could clog my ducts and slow down the production of my milk supply."

Seems reasonable right?  Woman has health problem.  Woman's physician agrees that it is serious enough to require limited duty.  You'd think this would be a no brainer, but somebody inside the department appears to be determined to make a point about what they see as officers taking advantage of the department's medical leave policies.

Brown would like to breastfeed her child for it's first year, but, as she put it to the Washington Examiner, that's a long time to go without pay.  Hopefully she will be granted the short term disability pay she's requested.

The case raises an interesting point beyond the basic unfairness of lumping lactating mothers in with those attempting to cheat the system - what does it say about our society that there are enough lactating mother who are also active duty cops that this has become an issue?  This might not be as bad a sign for the feminist cause as it seems to be, when considered from that angle.  Perhaps this is just another growing pain on the way to a more equal world.

We will be curious to see whether D.C. handles this gracefully and reasonably, or whether this becomes the next big sexual equality hot button issue.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.