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Space for Nursing Mothers to Pump Milk
From an Ask-NCN Discussion on 2/2/15
Hillary Brooks, David Brower Center
A subtenant ED just submitted a complaint about having to use the communal shower rooms for expressing breast milk. Having been through that not-so-fun experience myself, I have sympathy for her need for a clean, private space. Yet, I believe it is not the landlord’s legal responsibility to provide the room; it’s the employer’s.
Further, our shower rooms are actually not heavily used, they are cleaned regularly, and they are legally compliant as a private room for pumping, as she herself acknowledges. She just thinks it’s icky because multiple sweaty people use the space and it gets wet with shower water.
While it appears that this is a tenant relations issue rather than a legal one, I’m still wondering: have any of you dealt with this issue? If so, how do you have any learnings or innovative solutions to share?
Karen Maciorowski, CT Nonprofit Center
We have had many similar requests from guests of our Center; when we realized that all of our offices have glass doors and windows we realized, oops, poor planning! We figured having a temporary place to pump for a visitor/tenant is an important aspect of customer service. We identified an office in our space that a staff member was willing to give up for a period of time; purchased privacy screens from Walmart to block all of the glass; lock the door; and use special environmentally safe spray to spray before and after the pumping. BUT we also require that people give us notice on the time period (if not just one day visitor, but is a tenant or someone there regularly). Any tenant can borrow the privacy screens and environmental spray to set up the same in their office space. If a door does not have a lock, we have a volunteer female staff person sit outside the room for the 10 – 15 mins it takes to pump. The appreciation from the “Moms” goes a long way. However, I have no idea what the legal issues are; we simply started with a new “Mom” on staff and figured out a solution that didn’t creep her out and then extended it to visitors/tenants. She started bringing her own portable cooler with her so as not to have to use the communal fridge; then we purchased a small dorm fridge for the purpose.