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Breastfeeding mother settles suit with airlines

New Mexico woman was kicked off a Delta flight for nursing her daughter

A woman who was ordered off a 2006 flight for refusing to cover herself while breastfeeding has settled a suit against Delta Airlines and two other carriers.

According to Emily Gillette, she was breastfeeding her daughter near the rear of a Delta Connections plane headed from Vermont to New York when a flight attendant approached her with an airline blanket and asked her to cover herself.  After complaining about the flight attendant’s behavior, Gillette was led off the plane by a customer service representative.

The story went national, sparking “nurse-in” protests at 19 airports across the country. In 2009, after negotiations to settle her dispute stalled, she filed suit against Delta, Freedom Airlines Inc. and Mesa Air Group Inc., and filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

The airlines settled with Gillette for an undisclosed sum. Mesa and Freedom agreed to pay $20,000 each to the Human Rights Commission.

But the skies are still less than friendly for some breastfeeding mothers. Earlier this month, a Hawaii woman was “embarrassed and humiliated” when a TSA agent mistakenly told her she could not bring a breast pump and empty milk bottles through security. Amy Strand was instead forced to fill the bottles by pumping near the sinks in a public restroom. Forty-five states—including Vermont and Hawaii—have laws allowing women to breastfeed in public.

Alanna Byrne

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