Pumped up: Breastfeeding mothers fight for rights at work
When Bobbi Bockoras returned to work at a Port Allegany, Pa., glass factory in June 2013 after giving birth, she planned to pump breast milk during breaks so she could continue nursing her infant daughter Lyla.The 31-year-old palletizer operator knew that pumping at work — in a clean, private, non-bathroom space — was her right under a provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). “I was going to breastfeed, and no one was going to stop me,” she said.
But Bockoras says that Saint-Gobain Verallia North America, the company where she has worked for six years, did not follow the law. Supervisors first told her to pump in a bathroom, she says, and after she protested, they suggested alternatives that also failed to meet federal requirements. Bockoras agreed to use a locker room but says it was covered in dirt and dead bugs and lacked air conditioning.
Making matters worse, she says, she was harassed by colleagues who pranked her and banged on the door while she pumped. Bockoras called the treatment “defeating and exhausting.”
After she complained, Bockoras was temporarily reassigned to alternating day and overnight shifts that interfered with her feeding schedule and impeded her milk production, she claims in a civil suit filed on her behalf last month by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) against Verallia North America. It’s the first lawsuit brought by the ACLU under the ACA’s breastfeeding provision, which is the first federal law to require employers to accommodate nursing mothers on the job.
OK, it’s cruel for fellow employees to “prank” a nursing mother.
But it’s ridiculous to require employers to accommodate nursing mothers by law. At my job tyhere have only been a couple nursing moms and they took at least three pumping breaks of 10-15 minutes each (plus regular lunch and bathroom breaks).