DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Delaware state worker has filed a federal complaint that her supervisor failed to provide adequate accommodations for her to pump breast milk as required under federal law.
Nicole DeForest, a secretary with the state’s Division of Facilities Management, filed the complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She says that when she returned to work from maternity leave, her supervisor suggested she pump in a bathroom, then a utility closet, and then a shared office space. The last suggestion was that she pump in a conference room with tinted windows, DeForest said.
DeForest had planned to nurse her now-14-month-old daughter Elly for a year but said that her breast milk dried up over the stress of not having a good place to pump.
“My milk started to have a hard time coming down,” she told to The News Journal (https://delonline.us/1tydELm). “I was always afraid someone was going to walk in.”
After a couple weeks of pumping, DeForest said she had to switch to formula. “I felt like a failure when I stopped,” she said.
Human resources representatives in DeForest’s office declined to comment on the case, saying it’s a personnel matter.
The case comes three months after the Delaware Legislature passed a bill that would protect pregnant and nursing workers against discrimination. The bill is on Gov. Jack Markell’s desk and would need to be signed before becoming law.
Kelly Bachman, spokeswoman for Markell, said the governor’s office expects agencies to follow federal fair labor guidelines that afford nursing mothers breaks and privacy accommodations.
The office, she said, has personally asked the Office of Management and Budget to look into DeForest’s allegations and “to ensure that nursing mothers are consistently informed of their rights when returning to work.”
Fourteen states have specific laws protecting pregnancy discrimination and workplace lactation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., https://www.delawareonline.com
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