NY State trooper sues over having no place to pump breast milk

A Bronx state trooper is suing her department, claiming she was forced her to pump breast milk in her patrol car, dingy locker rooms, storage rooms and bathrooms — a violation of state and federal law.

Without a proper place to pump, State Trooper Schashuna Whyte suffered mastitis, a painful condition caused by clogged, sometimes infected milk ducts in 2018, her lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court states.

A complaint she made with the New York State Police’s Office of Equity and Inclusion was never answered, she claimed.

Whyte alleged she learned the state police had “no maternity policy in place,” after she was pregnant, according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday and lists Gov. Hochul and the agency as defendants.

During her pregnancy, Whyte said she was taken off patrol and given an administrative job in a communications station on Wards Island and near her Long Island home. While there she was subjected to “nasty, insensitive, meanspirited comments which only reinforced her belief female employees are not respected within the culture of the New York State Police,” court papers note.

After she gave birth, Whyte took an unpaid maternity leave. She alleges that when she returned, she wasn’t allowed breaks at least every three hours to express her milk, which is required by law. Her superiors also didn’t provide her with a clean, private room to pump, she claims.

New York City and state policy demands nursing mothers be provided with “a private room or an office for employees to express breast milk.” The room should “provide an employee with the requisite privacy” and cannot be a bathroom.

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“It’s shameful that Gov. Hochul, New York State Police managers and Attorney General James disregard legislative mandates protecting the legal rights of pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace,” Whyte’s lawyer Eric Sanders said Thursday. “With this and similar legal actions we intend to hold employers accountable for failing to follow the law.”

Whyte’s litigation is the latest addition in a growing list of class action lawsuits filed against city and state agencies, including the NYPD, the FDNY and the Department of Education claiming that nursing mothers were not given adequate facilities to pump breast milk.

Police Officer Simone Teagle of the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, claimed her superiors refused to provide her with the time and a clean space to pump, in violation of department policy and state and federal law. When Teagle complained about the conditions she was transferred, she alleges.

A month later, Teagle, along with Officers Theresa Mahon, Melissa Soto-Germosen, Vivian Ayende and Elizabeth Ortiz, filed discrimination complaints against the NYPD, claiming they were forced to pump in locker rooms, cars or bathrooms.

Teagle’s lawsuit is still pending in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Hochul’s office declined to comment on the suit. The state police did not return requests for comment.

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