Mentor woman files suit against Bryant & Stratton College, claims she was denied right to pump

MENTOR, Ohio - MENTOR, Ohio - A Mentor woman has filed a lawsuit against Bryant & Stratton College for sex discrimination after she claimed she was denied the right to pump breast milk while she was a student in the Eastlake campus's nursing program.

Erin Corral, 29, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in the Lake County Common Pleas Court against the college and her supervisor, Davida Smith.

Brian Spitz from The Spitz Law Firm is representing Corral in the lawsuit. He met with reporters today and told NewsChannel5, " This is an equal rights issue. Women are entitled to the same rights as everybody else in this society and that includes the right to be treated with respect and dignity."

In the suit, Corral, who was 4 months pregnant when she enrolled in the school's nursing program in May 2010, claims a program official told the students it would be impossible for them to graduate from the program if they became pregnant.

It stated that Corral had a 3.3 grade point average after she gave birth to her daughter months later. When she started her second semester, she was breast-feeding every two hours and when she was away from her child she needed to pump breast milk.

The suit claimed her supervisors initially gave her permission to take the extra time to pump, but that soon changed. Several times she was allegedly locked out of the classroom after being late and was told pumping was making her a distraction in the RN program.

In October 2010, the lawsuit reads the school gave her permission to pump breast milk in a conference room during breaks, but a large pile of books blocking the doorway obstructed the doorway making it impossible to close the door, leaving her exposed to people passing by.

Corral claimed she continued getting locked out of class for being late from pumping.

"Forcing a woman to have to breast-feed in a closet where the door won't close or to lock her out of class so she can't get back to education she's paid for, is extremely insulting," said Spitz.

According to the lawsuit, Corral's doctor wrote a letter to Smith asking the school to make 30 minute accommodations for the nursing mother to pump. The school dismissed Corral in January 2011. The suit claims this was in retaliation to Corral appearing on a local TV station about her concerns.

To all of this, Spitz said, "They violated their policy to specifically discriminate."

According to the sex discrimination lawsuit, Corral is seeking damages for emotional distress, punitive damages and a jury trial.

A student we spoke with Wednesday night said she was surprised to hear this lawsuit was made. "I think if she had went to the Dean, I think they probably would've helped her out," said Angelina Lee, a Criminal Justice major.

We spoke to an official with Bryant & Stratton College who said they didn't know there was a lawsuit until Wednesday. They're allowing their attorney, Mike Pascoe, to handle the matter. We have a message out to Pascoe, but have not yet heard a response from him.

A response from the school came into the newsroom around 4:10 p.m.

Ms. Corral has been alleging discrimination by Bryant & Stratton College for two years. Her allegations have been investigated by the Ohio State Board of Nursing and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and both organizations found no wrong doing by Bryant and Stratton College.

Due to concerns for Ms. Corral's privacy rights under FERPA and Bryant & Stratton College's practice of not commenting on ongoing litigation, Bryant & Stratton College cannot offer further comment on this matter.

Spitz said once the college has been served the lawsuit, they will have 30 days to respond before it is decided whether or not this goes to court.

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