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No One Tells Mamma to “Just Go Home!”

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Imagine you have just returned from maternity leave, still nursing your baby, and you find that your workplace has no place available for you to pump breast milk.  After trying for several hours to find a place, you ask for help from your department head, who says “You know, I think it’s best that you just go home to be with your babies.”  She hands you a pen and paper, advises you to resign, and even dictates what you should write down as your letter of resignation.

This is exactly what Angela Ames, a Loss Mitigation Representative at Nationwide Insurance, alleges happened to her when she returned to work eight-weeks after having her second child.

To begin with, as soon as she got to work, she found another employee’s belongings at her workspace—not exactly a warm welcome.   When she informed her department head that she needed a place to pump, she said that was “not her job,” and sent her to the company nurse. The nurse told her that she couldn’t use the company’s lactation room because the company needed three days to processes her “paperwork”—a policy no one had shared with her prior to her return.  The nurse advised her that she could try to pump in a room that was frequently used by sick employees with no lock on the door that was currently in use—she should check back in 15-20 minutes.

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