Civil Rights

Breast-Feeding Woman Booted from Plane Wins Secret Delta Settlement, 2 Other Carriers to Pay $20K


A New Mexico woman who said she was ordered off a Delta Connections flight in Vermont in 2006 after she refused an offended flight attendant’s demand to cover herself with an airline blanket has settled her civil rights case over the incident.

According to Emily Gillette, who is now 32, she had her toddler daughter positioned with her head toward the aisle, so her breast wasn’t publicly exposed, the Burlington Free Press reports.

The complaint Gillette filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington in 2009 also said she and her family were seated in the rear of the plane.

Delta, which didn’t actually operate the flight, agreed to pay Gillette an undisclosed amount, and it appears that two other carriers which were responsible for the flight may have contributed to the confidential settlement of the case as well. The two carriers, Freedom Airlines and Mesa Air Group, also agreed to pay $20,000 each to the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

The two said in statements that their airline policies support a woman’s right to breastfeed. Delta’s statement did not include such language; however, a Delta spokesman pointed out yesterday that he had said in 2006 the airline is supportive of a mom’s right to breastfeed.

Gillette said she is wants her case to benefit other moms. “I hope my experience and how I was treated helps raise awareness of this important health benefit for children and nursing mothers,” she said in a statement.

However, her attorney, Elizabeth Boepple of Portland, Maine, said Gillette was disappointed that her case didn’t result in stronger policies and statements of support for nursing mothers.

Hat tip: Associated Press.

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