Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) — Transportation Security Administration harassment of a nursing mother could cost the government $75,000 and could prompt some big changes to the way the agency does business.
“The harassment that I experienced that day and the lack of knowledge from some of those TSA agents was just unacceptable,” said Stacey Armato about her experience at Sky Harbor International Airport in 2010.
The Los Angeles area woman said her tentative settlement with the TSA is a victory for all nursing moms.
Armato was traveling from Phoenix to Los Angeles with bottles of pumped breast milk for her 7-month-old son, which turned into a nightmare at the Sky Harbor security checkpoint.
“He (TSA officer) looked at me and said, ‘Not today,'” Armato recalled about her experience. “And I had a choice: dump my milk or put it through the X-ray.”
Armato sued the U.S. government in 2012 and said she finally won thanks, in part, to video she obtained from the TSA and posted to YouTube.
It shows Armato detained in a glass enclosure, even after showing a supervisor a printout of TSA guidelines for breast milk.
“I was sobbing, crying and thinking desperately for another solution,” she said.
Armato said the TSA officers initially refused to follow the agency’s own policy of providing alternative security screenings for bottles of breast milk instead of pushing them through the X-ray.
“Throwing her in a glass enclosure, calling police officers, holding her for an hour until she misses her flight?” said Armato’s exasperated attorney Robert Mosier. “Yeah, abusive.”
TSA officers eventually allowed the breast milk to skip the X-ray.
Mosier said their proposed settlement requires the TSA to clarify its procedures, retrain all of its officers and update the agency’s website to better guide breastfeeding mothers.
The TSA is not commenting at this time, since the proposed settlement isn’t finalized.
Armato said she plans to use some of the $75,000 for her legal expenses.
She will donate the rest to a nonprofit that supports breastfeeding moms.