Pennsylvania resident Bobbi Bockoras is suing her employer after she was forced to breastfeed in a dirty, bug-ridden locker room while on the job.
Bockoras works at a Saint Gobain Verallia glass factory. She is mother of two children, one of whom was born recently and is still breastfeeding. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide breastfeeding employees with a clean, isolated room to pump breast milk in while on the job. Bockoras was first told by her employer to pump her breast milk in a bathroom. When she told Saint Gobain management about the ACA’s breastfeeding room requirement, she was told she could use an old locker room.
Here is Bockoras’ description of the locker room:
“I eventually agreed to use an old locker room, even though it was filthy, because at least it had a lock on the door — and they said they’d clean it up. But when I showed up to pump there a few days later, I found that the room had not been cleaned: it was covered in dirt and dead bugs, the floor was unfinished and had large patches missing from it, and there was no air conditioning — which is serious, because temperatures can get up to 106 degrees on the factory floor.
“The only furniture in the room was a single chair. I was completely disgusted, but what could I do? 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. Even though I complained that it was filthy, the company did not have it cleaned. To make matters worse, shortly after that, someone took the chair from the room, which is how I found myself pumping on the floor, with dead bugs for company.”
After Bockoras again insisted on being provided a more sanitary room, she was switched to a rotating shift which required her to work irregular hours and nights. As a breastfeeding mother, the irregular hours are not compatible with her child’s feeding schedule. Saint Gobain doesn’t seem too interested in her child’s needs.
“The company has refused to budge from this decision,” she said “even though they know that this puts an enormous strain on me and my child care situation, and even after I produced doctors’ notes saying I needed to be on the day shift to help me keep a regular schedule for breastfeeding my baby.”
Since Bockoras can’t convince Saint Gobain to comply with the law on her own, she is enlisting the help of the ACLU and has filed a lawsuit against her employer.
“I hope that my story will help inform other nursing workers of their rights, and educate employers about their legal obligations,” Bockoras wrote. “No woman should have to go through what I did simply to do what’s best for her baby.”