PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A Southwest Florida mom says she was let go from her job at a local mall because management didn't want her breastfeeding.
Elizabeth Amsalem worked at the Port Charlotte Town Center at a kiosk, where she worked her way up to manager over the last six years. She said her boss allowed her to bring her four-month-old son to work since she can't afford childcare.
However, three months into the arrangement, the mom said mall management stepped in because they got complaints about her breastfeeding. Now Amsalem cannot go to work and is struggling to pay her bills. She reached out to countless community organizations to try to find help with childcare with no luck. "I would cover myself up, sometimes I wouldn't even sit near my kiosk," she said. "Nobody should ever feel feeding their child is wrong, and nobody should ever get punished the way I did."
4 In Your Corner called Amsalem's boss. He said the issue had more to do with her bringing the baby to work all together rather than her breastfeeding, and he is just trying to follow the mall's rules.
We also reached out to national workers rights organization Workplace Fairness. Senior Advisor Paula Brantner said although federal law protects mothers breastfeeding in the workplace, there aren't laws protecting a parents right to bring a child to work. "In some work places, that would obviously be disruptive or even dangerous, which can make is difficult for working mothers who don't have childcare," said Brantner. "That's definitely something employers should take into account and provide more flexibility, whether it's paying higher wages, subsidizing healthcare for employees and childcare, or just being flexible if having the baby there wouldn't interfere with the job. It really is a challenge for low wage workers to raise their families and have enough money to cover the essentials of life."
Amsalem still believes breastfeeding is the reason she was let go. "There are multiple people in that mall that do bring their children to work and that was never addressed to them," she said.
4 In Your Corner reached out to mall management for their side of this story. They have not offered a comment yet.