A Colorado teacher who was fired allegedly because she needed to pump breast milk at school has received some justice after all. Heather Burgbacher's lawsuit against her previous employer was settled Friday.
Burgbacher was a teacher at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen (RMAE) when she had her second child. When she returned to work RMAE failed to provide a private place for her to pump breast milk or to assist her in scheduling the short breaks she needed to pump.
She complained about the lack of support and RMAE responded by firing her. The ACLU took up Burgbacher's case and sued RMAE for discrimination.
Colorado has its own law protecting nursing mothers but it's not the only protection new mothers have.
Federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against employees who choose to have children. That protects women while they're pregnant but it also should protect nursing mothers from being fired.
If that's not enough to discourage employers from firing women who need time and space to pump breast milk, The Affordable Care Act expressly protects nursing mothers.
The protection allows them breaks to pump milk for one year after their child is born. It also requires that employers provide a private space, other than a bathroom, for pumping.
Many states also have laws requiring employers to respect the needs of breastfeeding mothers. Twenty-four states as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico guarantee the right of woman to pump milk at work, reports The Wall Street Journal.
If you're a new mother and you need to pump breast milk at work, rest assured that you will be able to do it. If your employer gives you trouble call up your attorney. The law is on your side.
RMAE says Burgbacher's termination wasn't related to breastfeeding, according to a statement reported by KOAA. But her performance evaluations were excellent in her previous five years of work with RMAE. It was only when she complained that she was fired.
Still, she's gotten some justice out the settlement. In addition to monetary compensation for Burgbacher, RMAE has agreed to change its policies to accommodate nursing mothers.
- ACLU Settles Lawsuit Vindicating the Rights of Colorado Mothers to Pump Breast Milk in the Workplace (ACLU)
- New Parent Checklist (FindLaw)
- Breastfeeding Laws: Public Breastfeeding OK? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)