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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

November-08-13

Woman Sues After Being Harassed and Denied Space to Pump Breast Milk at Work

A Pennsylvania woman filed suit against her employer this week stating that she was discriminated against and harassed because the new mother wanted to pump breast milk at work.

Bobbi Bockoras returned to work at a Port Allegany, PA glass factory after giving birth, only to be ridiculed and denied the right to pump breast milk in a safe and clean environment. "Rather than help me follow my doctor's recommendations, I believe my employer ignored its legal obligations, allowed me to be bullied and harassed, and then retaliated against me for standing up for my rights," said Bockoras. "No employee should have to go through that."

Bockoras has worked at the glass factory for 6 years. When she returned after the birth of her child and and needed to pump breast milk, her employer first suggested she pump in the bathroom. She was then told to pump in the first aid room, but Bockoras was frequently interrupted. Her employer then told her to pump in an old locker room. The locker room was furnished with only one chair, the temperature sometimes reached 106 degrees, and the floor was covered in dead bugs.

"I was completely disgusted, but what could I do?" said Bockoras. "I only had a short break before I had to be back on my shift, and my baby has to eat, so I pumped there anyway."

According to Bockoras, her co-workers subjected her to harassment while she tried to pump, including pounding on the door demanding to enter and greasing the door handle with grease containing metal shards. When she complained, Bockoras was moved from her consistent day shift to a rotating shift, against the recommendation of her doctor. Working this shift, which required her to switch frequently between day and night shifts, impacted her breastfeeding schedule, causing her breast milk production to decrease by 50 percent.
Bockoras filed a federal civil complaint against her employer on Wednesday as well as a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Media Resources: ACLU 10/22, 11/6; ACLU Blog 11/6; NWLC 11/7


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