Did my employer harass me when he made unnecessary comments about my need to breast pump at work?

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Did my employer harass me when he made unnecessary comments about my need to breast pump at work?

Last year I had a baby and returned to work 6 weeks after his birth. I asked my manager if I could take one break a night to pump milk for my son. My manager said breast feeding is disgusting and he didn’t “want to know about it.” This made it difficult for me to ask permission. Then when I did he would tell me “not to get milk on his desk.” etc. I was also walked in on several times even with a sign on the door, because all managers have keys. I quit breastfeeding because of the harassment. I then was let go do to a problem with a male employee harassing me. Conveniently, they fired us both. Do I have any legal rights in this situation?  Should I speak with an employment law attorney? In Monroe County, PA

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Definitely speak with an employment law attorney. Sex-based harassment or discrimination at work is illegal, and making harassing comments to a women about using a breast pump, and then walking in on her in the situations you describe, could easily constitute sex-based harassment. Firing you later could be sex-based discrimination (even if they also fired a man at the same time, that does not mean that you were not discriminated against). And firing you after you complained of harassment may be illegal retaliation. Therefore, from what  you write, you may well have a one or more causes of action, and it would be worthwhile to consult with an attorney, who can evaluate all the circumstances in detail and advise you as to your rights and options. Good luck.


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