Pumped up: Breastfeeding mothers fight for rights at work


#1

US News/NBC:

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).


#2

Any smart employer will provide time for this, but I don’t see any reason for government to interfere in the contract arrangement between employer and employee in the way.

Jon


#3

The news article only presents Bobbi Bockoras’ side of the story. I suppose that is standard in a lawsuit, since lawyers seem to recommend that the person being sued not talk about it to the press. However, this makes discussion of the story difficult, since we lack important details.

The article doesn’t mention that her pumping schedule interfered with her job, so I am not sure that was a problem. From what little was said, the company simply wanted to choose which room she pumped in. She claims that the locker room was unclean and the company was unwilling to clean it. This seems a little surprising, but the news article shows that the locker room floor is missing several tiles. I think gaps in the tiles would make cleaning difficult, leaving behind dirt and grime where germs can grow.

She lives in a small town, so the social price she has paid for standing up to the company is no small thing. But she loves her baby, and wants the best for Lyla, and is willing to fight to get it. Don’t try to come between and mother and her children! ::smiley:


#4

If they provided, or offered to provide, a quiet out of the way area for her to pump, why is she complaining? The only reason I can think is this modern idea of “my rights are more important than yours”. She should be allowed to pump, that’s not in question, but where she pumps absolutely should be controlled. Some people simply do not want to be forced to choose between watching someone else do something private or being forced to go somewhere else. The same thing she is complaining about.

The pranks are juvenile and should not be tolerated.

I sincerely wish people would start using common sense again.


#5

Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

Does anyone have a copy of the ACA :p? This website does not mention “clean” explicitly. If the law does stipulate that the room has to be clean then perhaps she has some kind of a legal standing here. It is unbelievable that a business would allow a room to get so dirty that a nursing mother would not feel secure there, but there you have it.

Otherwise, failing that, it seems that the business did everything possible to accommodate her. Really, many businesses are not going to have any private room at all to make this accommodation, so it is a tough call.


#6

I work in a school and I have been told by my human resources director multiple times that I have a right to have time and a place to pump. However, logistically, I know it isn’t going to happen. There are not any spare rooms and it’s not fair for me to take up the only staff bathroom. (It’s a one seater.) Fortunately, I have enough short breaks on most days that I can lock my classroom door and pump in my room, provided nothing happens like a phone call from a parent or discipline problem that needs addressing or a fire drill. Supposedly, they are going to “work with me” on the one day where my schedule doesn’t provide a break for over four hours, but unless they have a spare music teaching in a closet somewhere that can cover half my class everyday, I don’t see it happening.


#7

An attorney who specializes in employment law and employment benefits has written a short explanation of the lactation provisions in the Affordable Care Act. He also posted the exact wording of the relevant section of the law.
americanbar.org/content/newsletter/publications/aba_health_esource_home/Volume7_01_fitzpatrick.html

The cleanliness of a room used for lactation is not mentioned, although a court might infer that standard since bathrooms are specifically ruled out.


#8

Why?

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).

That’s a bad thing?


#9

if their not being paid ,why is this any concern of yours :shrug:


#10

Breastfeeding Mom here. I am (hopefully) coming to the end of this stage, but I am nursing my 20 month old and have been pumping since returning to work. I work for a wonderful company who even prior to the new law has recognized the benefits to supporting breastfeeding moms, both to the moms and to the company. Sadly not all companies are like that and it sounds like the company this lady works for just did not want to comply and wished to bully her into not pumping. First they want her to use a restroom just disgusting, then a room that is just designed to make her uncomfortable dirty with no AC, and they mess with her schedule, just mean. Breastfeeding and pumping require the mind and body to work together and a certain amount of comfort is helpful. I am glad that she has stood up for her rights.


#11

if their not being paid ,why is this any concern of yours :shrug:


#12

I have learned the hard way that clean us subjective. What I find clean is usually much more sanitary than most people. Missing tiles in a locker room does not make the room filthy. I have always found it humorous when someone complains about a restroom being too dirty to nurse or pump, but they change that same child’s behind in that room.


#13

do you eat sitting on the toilet ?


#14

That has nothing to do with what I said, but thanks anyway.

To answer your question, I have eaten in worse places.


#15

it has everything to do with it


#16

No.


#17

:rolleyes:


#18

I know that I never bring my water cup into the restroom I also make my round trip dropping my cup off to my desk first, even though that is less convenient.


#19

I was and will be again a pumping mother. Even with companies that provide (without legal compulsion) a clean, and private place to pump, it is difficult. I work hourly at an office job. I would combine my 15 minute break and use my lunch break (30minutes) to pump twice a day. Twice a day in an eight hour work day is not recommended. 3 would be better. However, in order for my to pump the needed milk and clean up my stuff, it was always closer to 30 minutes than 15 minutes. I dared not take another pumping break because that would mean I would have to stay at the office an extra half hour. I was just better to go back and nurse the baby since pumping was so ineffective (the second and third time around, I could pump plenty for my eldest).

That means I ate my lunch at my desk every day, I did not get any breaks to put my head down or do something besides stare at a computer screen all day. I suppose I should count myself lucky that bathroom breaks do not have to be included in our 15 minutes or lunch breaks. :rolleyes:

Pumping was ultimately very stressful, because I never had a “stash” of milk and was always worried about having enough milk for the baby. I work contract jobs, so am not always on a job, which makes it more difficult to stash milk away, since it only lasts a 2-4 months in a regular freezer.

A factory job is very regular and scheduled, as long as she is pumping effectively, I see no problem providing her a clean and comfortable area to pump. I worked some summer jobs at factories, and the factory area and even the break room was a mess, but the ones I worked at had front office areas. I bet there was a conference room or empty office they could have offered her.

Ultimately formula is expensive. I looked it up, Simulac says you can get 168oz from their tub verses the 159 from Enfamil, which are 2 of the biggest brands, and you can purchase for $23.99 at Target. The general consensus is that this can will last you 3-4 days a week tops. That means you are $100-$120+ extra a month on just formula. Not to mention the distilled water you are supposed to buy. :shrug:


#20

We can’t be PRO-LIFE and not fight for making it easy for the moms to take care of their children. Babies first, employers and shocked co-workers last!


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