Expressing milk at work - what are our rights?

Trina - posted on 02/20/2009 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Today was my first day back at work after maternity leave, and was met with crazy requirements from our H.R. person that I have a 45 minute window in the morning and afternoon to do the expressing in the first aid room. The first aid room is ideal because it has privacy, a chair and an outlet - I'm not complaining about that. It's the schedule that she's telling me to follow that I take issue with. If I deviate from this timeframe AT ALL, I was told that I need to use the restroom. There are two restrooms: one doesn't have any chairs, and the second has a chair, but can be seen by passers by from the hallway, or anyone on the way to a stall. I only need the first aid room for 20 minutes, but I sometimes need to work around meetings, phone calls, etc. She told me the time schedule is because it's a "community room". No one else uses the first aid room for anything except getting out bandaids. When I told her that work was the priority, and I need some flexibility, she replied that work IS the priority, but that "this place isn't a pumping station". I'm salary, and shouldn't be told when my breaks need to be (except for lunch). I know she's on a power trip, but I can't find what my rights are in Michigan. Can anyone offer some advice? (And yes, she has children, but didn't breastfeed.)

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Trina - posted on 02/21/2009

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My workplace does have everything I need, I agree.  It's just the attitude that they're imposing upon me.  Yesterday I had to pump 20 minutes early to coincide with a meeting break.  H.R. told me it would be a "one time exemption", and if I continue to not follow the schedule, she'd "pull the plug".  That type of attitude only impedes my productivity.  Next time I need to pump 20 minutes early, I have to do it in a toilet stall (with a hand pump), while the first aid room is 12 feet away unused. 

Abbey - posted on 02/21/2009

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Honestly, I think that your work is providing what they have to. You should have a private space and time allowed to pump. I pumped in my office when I returned to work, but I share an office with my male boss. They put blinds up on the window for me and my boss would leave whenever I needed to pump.

Trina - posted on 02/21/2009

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Thanks for the comments.  Looks like there are some initiatives started, but we really don't have any rights, except for not being able to be charged under nudity violations.  I wrote Governor Granholm this morning requesting a Nursing Mother's in the Workplace Act to be adopted, like other states have. 



(Crying babies in the workplace would get very uncomfortable when you're past due to express.  If only we could put some siphoning device in the breast pads to save that liquid gold, huh?)

Mary - posted on 02/21/2009

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Pretty sure there aren't any legal rights...policies/accomadations vary from employer to employer. I work for a as an L&D nurse in a hospital that gives a lot of lip service to being breastfeeding friendly. They do have a pumping room, BUT...it's really not convienient, so nobody I work with has ever used it. What really determines how often & when I pump is how busy we are, how well staffed, and how understanding my coworkers are. I typically just use an empty patient room (if we have one), and pump when I can. I start out my shift by informing my coworkers of when I anticipate needing to pump...and hope that I can around those times. Doesn't always work out for me, but so far, I'm survivng. Just be happy you don't work in a place where you have crying babies...all that let down, and no immediate opportunity to pump can be a little uncomfortable!

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