Mammography Office Down on Boobies in Breastfeeding Discrimination Case

BlogHer Original Post

"Congratulations on the birth of your baby and welcome back to work! We have a bathroom all set up for you to pump your breast milk. By the way if your pumping means we have to wait to use the can, we will fire your ass. Glad to have you back at work!"

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the exact way the conversation went down, but the actions of a midtown Manhattan mammography office have resulted in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) by a worker who claims she was fired illegally.  What makes this case particularly noteworthy is the worker is claiming she was discriminated against by her office manager for pumping her breasts for milk at work. At a mammography office.  One would think a mammography office manager would know better  and not be such a boob.  N'est-ce pas? Mais non!

Yadiris Rivera, a 28-year-old mother, had been employed by Manhatten Medical Imaging for six years. In April 2009, Rivera gave birth to a baby girl; upon returning to work, she used a breast pump three times a day. By law employers in New York are to provide a "sanitary facility," but Rivera's employer provided a bathroom. Six months after she had returned to work and after six months of pumping her breasts in the bathroom, Rivera's office manager told her to stop pumping at work as it was inconveniencing co-workers.  According to the complaint, when Rivera wasn't enthused about that option, her employer offered her the opportunity to pump her breasts in another woman's office.  Only the offer to use  her breast pump elsewhere included in the presence of another person.  While most of us wouldn't mind sharing a lunch room with a co-worker, sharing a lactation space with a co-worker probably wouldn't go over so well.  Such was the case with Rivera who determined her employer's offer to use her breast pump in the presence of another wasn't a a reasonable accommodation. And it wasn't.

Rivera reported the problem to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which attempted to educate Rivera's employer about breast feeding discrimination.  My guess is  Rivera's employer didn't appreciate being schooled, opted for a "tough titty" approach and fired Rivera. Because according to Rivera's complaint, she was fired shortly after her employer was contacted by the NYCLU.

Following her termination, Rivera chose to file her complaint with the EEOC. According to Rivera, "I told them that it was very uncomfortable," and "I felt deep inside that it can't be right a person expressing milk for their daughter in the bathroom." While her employer didn't seem to be all that concerned about Rivera being put in the position of having to choose between her baby or her job, the EEOC is going to be pretty pumped up about making sure employers like Rivera's are not allowed to get away with violating breast feeding discrimination laws. 

Do you know the laws in your state? Have you ever experienced breast feeding discrimination?


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