Teacher Told School She’d Need to Pump Breast Milk During Work Hours. She Says It Got Her Fired

A new mom from Maine claims she was fired from her teaching job after having a baby — all because she needed to pump breast milk during school hours.

Now, she’s suing the school for discrimination.

The mother, 33-year-old Shana Swenson, returned from maternity leave in August 2017, USA Today reports.

She told officials at Falmouth Elementary School that she’d need to take a total of about 60 minutes during her shift to pump breast milk three times a day.

Swenson also proposed feeding her child at the on-site day care instead, according to her lawsuit.

The former Falmouth teacher said she was told that pumping three times a day was too much and claims she was met with “extreme animosity and hostility” from her co-workers.

She refused to reduce her pumping schedule because she said it could lead to clogged milk ducts or mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue, the Bangor Daily News reports.

Though Swenson had only received positive performance reviews in the past, she received her first negative review after informing her supervisor that she felt discriminated against regarding her pumping.

And in May 2018, she was told that the school would not renew her contract to teach there.

Wes Hicks/Unsplash

Swenson is now suing the school district on claims that she was discriminated against on the basis of gender and pregnancy, the Bangor Daily News reports.

However, a lawyer for Falmouth Public Schools said that the mother was let go because of her performance. Attorney Melissa Hewey said:

“Ms. Swenson’s claim that the Falmouth School Department discriminated against her is false. In fact, Falmouth works hard to support employees who are parents by, among other things, providing mothers with paid time to breast feed and express breast milk during the school day, extended parental leave when needed, and an on-site day care for employees so that they are able to be near their children and participate in their care during the working day.”

Swenson’s attorney,  Katie A. Beatty, said her client was “hurt” by the school’s actions. She added:

“We look forward to the discovery process including depositions and document exchanges to vindicate our client’s rights.”

Maine’s Office of Health Equity recommends that new moms pump two to three times a day during an eight-hour shift, which should roughly be “the same number of breaks to pump that you would need to take to feed your baby if you were not at work.”

Employers in Maine are also required by law to provide breastfeeding moms a place to express milk on scheduled breaks up until the child is 3 years old.

It’s unclear if Swenson is now working as a teacher elsewhere.