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A woman who filed a claim for gender discrimination after no allowances were made for her to breastfeed when she returned to work has had her appeal thrown out by America's Supreme Court, which said "men can lactate too".

On her first day back on the job at Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Des Moines, Iowa, after two months of maternity leave, Angela Ames was told she could not use one of her company's lactation rooms for at least three days because she had not filled out the necessary paperwork, according to the WSJ.

The company nurse however did put in a request that she be given “expedited access” to a lactation room and that in the meantime she be given access to a “wellness room” as soon as possible.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Ms Ames' supervisor told her "you know, I think it’s best that you go home to be with your babies" after she complained.

She resigned and filed a sex and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the company in 2012 - which was initially dismissed in March 2014 by the Eighth Circuit Court.

There had also been an issue regarding a backlog of work and the appeal court had said the company’s expectations of Ms Ames were not unreasonable, as they expected all employees to keep their work current.

The court found that Nationwide's policies treated all nursing mothers and loss-mitigation specialists alike and that the company did not intend to force Ms Ames to resign when it sought to enforce its policies.

Ms Ames appealed and took the case to the Supreme Court but the ACLU report was told last week that she "did not take sufficient steps to complain internally before writing her letter of resignation”.

The court also ruled that even if Ms Ames had been fired - rather than "resigning" - it was not a case of sex discrimination "in part because men can lactate under certain circumstances".

While some cases of male lactation have been recorded, it is extremely rare and the ACLU argues that this was "still a form of sex discrimination, and one that is all-too-frequently experienced by new mothers".

The court also found that the "go home to be with your babies" comment was gender-neutral despite the ACLU and other civil liberties groups arguing that the "comment reflects exactly the type of sex stereotype – that women will be less committed to their work after having children".

Because the Supreme Court has dismissed the case, that effectively means the end of the line for Ms Ames' appeal.

After the initial ruling in March last year, Nationwide Mutual Insurance said in a statement: “Nationwide is fully committed to supporting the health and wellness needs of all of our associates, including providing lactation space when needed. We agree with the court’s decision.”

i100.co.uk has contacted Nationwide Mutual Insurance for a comment on the Supreme Court's verdict.

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