FDNY Mechanic Alleges Nursing Discrimination

An FDNY mechanic has filed a notice of claim that she intends to file suit against the city for discrimination and violation of the Nursing Mother’s Act.

Vanessa Feeley claims she was forced to express breastmilk in public and that the city improperly docked her for nursing breaks. Feeley claims the FDNY repair shop in Queens lacked a proper location for her to express breastmilk, forcing her to use “messy storage areas, empty conference rooms and the offices of vacationing employees to pump,” quoting from the New York Post.

She further claims her bosses mandated that she punch out after nursing for 15 minutes, requiring her to leave what private location she was using to make her way to a scanner located in the middle of the office. The Post quoted Feeley as saying:

  • “There were firemen, there were supervisors, there were mechanics.”
  • “Anyone who worked in the building could see me at any point.”

The federal Nursing Mother’s Act mandates that employers provide nursing mothers with private space for expressing breast-milk, guarantees them the right to take as much unpaid leave to express breast-milk as is necessary during a work shift, and prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation against nursing mothers who seek protection under the act. The NMA is now part of the FLSA. Here is a fact sheet on the law.

New York also has a similar law, Labor Law Section 206-C Breastfeeding in the Workplace Accommodation Law (2007). Here is a link to it. The Post said the city was awaiting delivery of a special pod for nursing mothers.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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