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NYPD under fire for breast milk controversy

The mission of the City of New York Police Department is to “enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment.” While many officers have proven to do that time and time again in the state’s dangerous streets, some employees think that their employers and co-workers aren’t upholding that motto in their workplace.

A few weeks ago, 5 female officers of the NYPD announced that they are filing a lawsuit against their department for not providing safe conditions for pumping breast milk. The incident highlights not only a seemingly ongoing problem within the most iconic police department of the nation, but many other workplaces that aren’t aware of the current laws in place.

Old problems with new mothers

Back in October, ABC 7 ran a story on how an assistant desk officer in Queens planned to sue the NYPD for their poor conditions for pumping breast milk. Her precinct forced her to pump in front of the other officers rather than give her a private room. She attempted to do it less when the other officers insulted her while they watched her pump and harassed her for taking multiple breaks, but it only led to an infection. After her complaints to the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity went unaddressed, she took legal action against the city for state and federal violations.

Four months later, 5 other NYPD officers also filed a claim against their employers for having similar degrading experiences and not being aware of their rights. They had no clean or decently sized rooms to pump in and never knew that they had the right to complain or that their supervisors were violating laws.

A safer future?

The NYPD has addressed that they are taking they plan on building safer spaces for breast pumping and making mothers more aware of their rights, but only time will tell how effective their efforts will be.

If police precincts struggle to these employee safety laws, then it speaks volumes on how big the problem is in other workplaces. It is illegal in New York for employers to discriminate against mothers breastfeeding babies or pumping milk at work. The state also requires employers to try and accommodate the worker’s request for a safe, clean and private area to pump.

New mothers treated unfairly at work suffer both physically and financially. A company should not punish a worker for welcoming a new child in their life. Those who want further clarification on their rights as a working mother in New York should contact an attorney that has experience with employment law.

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