Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ex rel. Vargas v. Department of Correction
Connecticut General Statutes §46a-64 only permits females to breastfeed in a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, and a visiting room at a Department of Correction facility may not qualify. Allegedly, the complainant, Alsenet Vargas, went to visit her husband, who was incarcerated at a Connecticut corrections facility, and was denied the right to breastfeed her child in the visiting room at the facility. In one instance, a warden offered to permit Vargas to leave the visiting room to breastfeed and then return to the visiting room. Vargas filed a complaint, alleging that the Department of Correction violated C.G.S. §46a-64. The statute provides, "It shall be a discriminatory practice in violation of this section . . . for a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement to restrict or limit the right of a mother to breast-feed her child." The Department of Correction moved to dismiss and argued that prison facilities do not qualify as places of "public accommodation, resort or amusement." Presiding Human Rights Referee Michele Mount found that Vargas failed to allege a prima facie case. Department of Correction services are not provided to the general public. The legislature had the option to include corrections facilities in the definition of "public accommodation." Currently, a DOC visiting room does not qualify as a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, and the human rights referee granted the Department of Correction's motion to dismiss.