An NYPD officer has sued New York City, alleging she was harassed by her bosses over the time she needed to pump breast milk, a violation of her civil rights that she claims led to the development of a painful medical condition.
In a legal notice filed with the city comptroller, Simone Teagle claimed her superiors at the 113th Precinct in Queens refused to provide her and other nursing mothers in the department with a proper location to pump at work, and as a result “she now suffers from severe engorgement and mastitis.”
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that can occur when a milk duct is blocked. It can arise when nursing women fail to pump milk regularly. The condition is often extremely painful.
From April 19 through Sept. 17, Teagle said was forced to pump in a female bathroom, in the female locker room or in her personal vehicle, where she had to store the pumped milk in a lunchbox.
Teagle, 37, said her medical problems began in August, when a supervisor said she had to start logging her “breast pump” breaks in the Interrupted Patrol Log, which she said was otherwise used to monitor patrol personnel who entered the stationhouse during their tours.
The log is viewable by all in the stationhouse, she said.
“After a while, I stopped asking for a break,” Teagle told the New York Post.
She said she would pump “Only when I felt the need and my breasts were filling up. I didn’t want to deal [with] the faces and the nastiness.”
Teagle said she made the NYPD Office of Equal Employment Opportunity aware of the situation and was asked at least twice to fill out a request for reasonable accommodation. Then on Sept. 17, Teagle was transferred from the 113th Precinct to another department facility “in retaliation for her complaints,” the lawsuit said.
Teagle is suing for $5 million over pain and suffering, mental anguish and punitive damages.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk,” the suit said.
The Affordable Care Act also requires employers to provide a private place, other than a bathroom, for employees to pump breast milk, the suit said.
The city’s Law Department declined to comment on the claim.