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Woman fired for asking to use breast pump

A woman who was employed by the Carmelo School has filed a wrongful termination suit against the organization and the area school district, claiming that she was not accommodated as a new mother and was fired for pumping breast milk. The woman has not announced how much money she is seeking in connection with the incidents, during which administrators told her that she was not permitted to pump her breast milk.

The woman claims that she was prevented from pumping, despite asking for only 15 minutes' break time between 9 and 11 a.m., according to the complaint. She told her manager at the Child Development Center that she would require the short break, but the manager reportedly refused to grant her the time off each day. The manager essentially told the woman that she would have to prevent her breasts from producing milk from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, because she was required to work the entire shift.

As a result, the woman was unable to pump as required by her physician, and the baby's pediatrician noticed that the child was not gaining weight as expected.

The woman says that she complied with the rules for a short time, but she contacted the group's human resources department after consulting with her physician. HR representatives told the woman that accommodations would be made to provide her with a private pumping area, but those changes never materialized. The woman was instead left to find her own pumping area with little privacy.

The woman also claims that she received a poor performance rating because she asked for time and space to pump. During her first performance assessment, she had met all 23 work-related performance measures, but she only met 14 during the second assessment, just months later. She was then pushed to resign, and she was told that her two-year employment contract would not be renewed.

Legal documents show that she is suing for wrongful termination, retaliation, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and a variety of other claims.

Source: Monterey County Herald, "Ex-Carmel teacher claims discrimination over breast feeding in lawsuit," Claudia Melendez Salinas, Nov. 13, 2012

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