A former school teacher claims she’s been fired for taking breaks to pump breast milk and breastfeed her young son.
Shana Swenson, 33, from Portland in the US state of Maine, sued last week in federal court, claiming discrimination on the basis of gender and pregnancy.
Ms Swenson, who taught at Falmouth Elementary School, was a “response to intervention” teacher who helped students in the third through fifth grades who struggled with reading and math.
The lawsuit says she was subjected to “extreme animosity and hostility” because of her breaks during the day.
The former teacher was taking three breaks each day, The Portland Press Herald reported.
According to Australian Breastfeeding Association and Victoria’s Better Health Channel some babies need to be breastfed eight to 12 times a day.
Ms Swenson had gone on maternity leave in January 2017 and returned in August.
She had been employed by the school for three years.
However, she claims she underwent months of discrimination from fellow staff members on returning from maternity leave. It left her stressed and reduced to tears, Ms Swenson claims.
But Melissa Hewey, a lawyer for Falmouth schools, told the Bangor Daily News that the claims of discrimination are “false”.
She said the district provides on-site daycare, extended parental leave and paid time for breast pumping or breastfeeding.
The teacher’s lawyer Adam Lease told The Portland Press Herald his client “was surprised and hurt by the treatment that she was subjected to during her employment”.
The lawsuit alleges the school principal Gloria Neyes asked Ms Swenson to reduce the breaks from three to two and to have those breaks during lunch and class preparation time.
However, Ms Neyes claims Ms Swenson wasn’t fired. She said the former teacher’s contract wasn’t renewed because her performance wasn’t up to standard.
Her employment ended at the school in May 2018.
Ms Swenson is seeking compensation and for the school to change its policy on breastfeeding.
With Associated Press
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