A mother in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania was reportedly told that a dirty, hot, bug-filled room was “good enough” for her to pump her infant’s breastmilk in, and she’s decided to take matters into her own hands by getting the law on her side.
On ACLU’s blog, this mother of two girls, Bobbi Bockoras, explains how she is one of the few female employees at Saint Gobain Valleria, a glass bottling plant where she has worked on the heavy machinery manufacturing line for six years. Bobbi says that she “loves her job, and loves her work” at the plant.
Even before having daughter Lyla, Bobbi said she knew she wanted to breastfeed, believing in the benefits of breastfeeding after employing that method with her first daughter. She said she told her supervisor of her plans before she left for maternity leave. She also knew that under the Affordable Care Act, the law known as the “Nursing Mothers Provisions” required her employer to give her a private, safe space in which to pump. The savvy mom even dropped off a copy of the law with the Human Resources department.
When she returned to work, however, Bobbi said she was first placed in a room with no lock in which her male co-workers were constantly interrupting. When she complained, she says she was shown a series of worse spaces, culminating in the bug-infested, 106-degree room where she had to sit on the dirty floor to pump.
After complaining to HR repeatedly, Bobbi found herself enduring the harassment of her co-workers, then suddenly found herself placed on a rotating day and night shifts, which has sent her milk production into a tailspin. The frustrated mom finally had to break down and give her baby formula.
Bobbi says she is pursuing legal avenues, and although it may be too late for her to exclusively breastfeed her child, she hopes that her story will help workplaces understand that they can’t pressure mothers to pump in filthy conditions, and that other moms will know their rights when it comes to the new law.