Haley Gentle took maternity leave in January 2019 to give birth to her child. At the time, the Alabama mother was employed by a small business. She anticipated going on leave without pay, then returning to work and starting up where she left off.
Haley texted her supervisor before her maternity leave ended to inquire whether she could pump her breast milk at work. She listed the ways in which her pumping would not impede her or others’ work.
She expressed that she is nursing her kid and intends on pumping. She has a hands-free gadget that she will need to use at work maybe twice, once from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and again over lunch. Pumping will not take her away from her desk, computer, or phone. It’s completely silent, and no one knows I’m doing it.
Haley’s employer reacted by claiming her pumping strategy was a problem: I will be permitted to do it during your lunch break, but not during your working hours. What I tolerate for you, I must accept for others.
It was not the response Haley had anticipated. After speaking with a lawyer, pregnant women do have work environment privileges, but those rights are contingent on the number of employees at the organization. Because Haley’s firm has fewer than 50 employees, facilities that the corporation refused to make for her must be proven to constitute an ‘undue burden’ on the company.
Haley conducted some research to understand more about her rights in order to make a case for herself and other new parents. She emailed her supervisor again by sending a certified letter, this time requesting two 20-minute pay breaks so she could pump breast milk for her baby.
Gentle’s company stated it would be open to explore modifications after getting the certified letter a few days later. Gentle, on the other hand, had concluded she’d rather work somewhere else at that point.
She has a new job lined up with access to a private pumping room whenever she needs it. Gentle has now been named Alabama’s ambassador for the Normalize Breastfeeding campaign. She explained that she wants mothers to realize there are support groups available and for them to be aware of their rights as well.
Now, Haley is sharing her experience so that other women do not have to go through what she has.
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