A New Jersey mom says she was fired by her employer after requesting breaks to pump breast milk for her newborn daughter.
Ariana Gossard said recently she wanted to return to her job as a front desk receptionist at the Hampton Inn in Bordentown after giving birth to her daughter in May. But, she told NJ.com, she was fired last week after being told there was not a position that could accommodate her requested breaks.
“The fact that I got fired for trying to do one of the best things I could do for my daughter is pretty messed up,” Gossard said.
She said she had to begin her maternity leave on March 9 because of complications with the pregnancy. She delivered her daughter via cesarean section May 4. To recover from the delivery she had to extend her six-week leave to eight weeks, she said.
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Gossard’s temporary disability ran out on June 28 but her 12-week protected leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act reportedly began the following day.
On July 30 she reportedly met with the hotel’s general and assistant managers to talk about returning to work in August. She informed the managers she would need to take two to three 15- to 20-minute breaks over the course of her eight-hour shift to pump milk to take home to her daughter.
She says she was informed that her position as a front desk receptionist doesn’t allow for breaks. She claims the general manager told her he would have to have two people working every shift she was on to accommodate her request.
Gossard told NJ.com she offered to move down to part-time or even be moved to housekeeping. The managers told her they would talk it over with the hotel’s owner and get back to her. She claims when she contacted them the following week she was told simply there were no positions available for her.
Now, Gossard says, she’s unemployed and worried about what the stress of the situation will do to her milk supply.
A portion of the 2010 Affordable Care Act states employers are required to provide "reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth,” NJ.com reports. Under the law, employers, “are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion.”
Gossard also took to her Facebook page to tell her story in a lengthy post, detailing the timeline of events.
“So now on Friday, August 7, 2015 I am unemployed due to being a breastfeeding mother who wants her breaks during work to express breast milk,” she wrote. “How unfair is that? I bring a beautiful baby into this world, want to feed her the best way I can and in return get fired from my job !”
“What just happened to me was 100% illegal and people need to be aware,” she wrote. “Share this post & help get my story out.”
Since posting her story on Aug. 7 it has been shared more than 400 times and received numerous comments of support.
“I hope justice is served for you and all the other breastfeeding moms out there !” wrote user Marissa Not-Stelle.
“Unbelievable! I am so sorry you were treated in such a manner baby girl!” another user, Janet DeLoach, wrote. “I shared this post! I hope everything works out and you and your absolutely beautiful baby girl get justice!!”
NJ.com reportedly left a message for the Hampton Inn manager on Aug. 11 but that call was not immediately returned.
Gossard said she is now looking for another job and seeking legal advice, but, she told NJ.com, she really just wants to get the word out so other moms don’t experience what she has gone through.
“It's a shame what we have to go through to try to feed our child,” she said. “Employers ... need to become familiar with the laws and they need to be respectful of mothers and what they want to do for their child.”