Monday, September 24, 2012

My Right to Pump

As everyone knows I am a breastfeeding mama. I am damn proud of this and will continue as long as I can.
The following was taken from an email I sent to my local representative of the La Leche League. Some elements were cut out for the sake of privacy but you will get the jist of it. 
Any advice or support would be greatly appreciated.

I am having an issue at work. I am a breastfeeding mother and I pump at work at least once, sometimes twice a day while I am at work. There isn't anywhere for me to pump that is private other than the restroom. My "office" is nothing more than a section in the backroom that is wide open to team members walking in and out of and they have to pass it to get to the very back where the fridge and freezer are. Up until recently that did not bother me; I would simply tell my team that I needed to pump and that if they chose to enter my office that they did so under their own risk. No one has had an issue that I am aware of. I would simply face my computer, keep my apron, work shirt and undershirt on and pump very modestly. If someone needed something I would talk to them facing the computer or simply turn my head. 

Anyway, Friday I received a phone call from my district manager asking me if I pump in "public" to which I of course reply "no." I don't even know what that means... She said that there were some issues raised in regards to me pumping at work and she wanted me to make sure that I was aware that I couldn't do that. Naturally, it was busy in my store during that time so I assured her that I do not "pump in public" and got off of the phone.

After hanging up I became really upset. I never questioned my company about my right to a clean, private area in which for me to pump that they DO NOT provide. And I most certainly remain as modest as possible. So I contacted HR and they said they had no idea about the laws and policies of pumping in the workplace. She asked me about my store setup, how and where I pump, where I store my milk (in a cooler in my bag with my pump). I told her I was unhappy with the way this "issue" was presented and that I really had no other choice because I breastfeed therefore I must pump at work. She said she would have to forward this to her manager and see what they could do. 

I need advice. I mean, I am not normally one to cause a scene but I am truly and passionately upset about the way this issue was raised and they way it is being handled. It is making me sick. I cannot be the only woman with this issue at the company and I don't want another woman having to have to deal with it. I am so bothered by it that I couldn't bring myself to pump at work on Saturday because I didn't want anyone saying anything. And that isn't fair. It's not fair to me and it is definitely not fair to my nine month old daughter. I plan to continue breastfeeding; we are doing baby led weaning so I will have to continue to pump at work regardless in order to maintain my supply.
I am a myriad of emotions over this. I still feel sick just thinking about it. I have never felt so violated in my life. 

I am the type of gal who will takes hits until I am dead on the ground and I will just work harder. I do not complain. But this...? This will be taken as far as I can take it. No one should have to deal with this. 
I truly do not want to take this as far as the legal system but I am prepared to do so. I am not looking for compensation, although I believe they should have to pay the $100 per day fine for not providing me with what I am legally entitled to.

Here we go...


  1. I can't believe this. I tweeted it because I don't have any advice and I know a lot of mamas who BF and have fought things like this so hopefully someone can help.

    1. Thank you so much, Victoria. I really appreciate your efforts. It means more to me than you will ever know.

  2. As long as your company has more than 50 employees this applies
    As of March 22, 2010

    Health care bill establishes a right to pump at work in entire U.S.!

    Whatever you think of the health care bill passed by Congress yesterday, you may be pleased to hear that the bill extends a right to pump at work to moms in every state. Some states, such as California and New York, already have such a law, but must most don't.

    A provision (in my mind the most important one) of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's legislation was incorporated in to the Senate version of the health care bill some time ago, and I'm told that it remained in the bill just approved.

    When signed, the bill would require employers of 50 or more employees to:

    ...provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to do so. The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee for any work time spent for such purpose.

    1. Thank you, Lindsey! I did some research the day that happened and forwarded all types of stuff to the HR department! I really appreciate you taking the time to look that up for me.

  3. Ditto what Lindsey said. Fight for your right and keep up breastfeeding. You're doing an amazing thing which is uncomfortable to do at work when people know you're pumping. The fact that you don't have the privacy I had at my employer is upsetting to me as well. I'm sure La Leche will help you but keep at HR. They should know this information as it's a potential lawsuit and is a law they should be aware of.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! You are absolutely right about it being uncomfortable to pump at work. Luckily, my team is uber supportive and give me the time I ask for with minimal interruption. And, as horrible as it sounds it is kind of a running joke with my team. They always sing that Black Eye Peas song "Pump It" when it's time for me to go to the back. : )


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