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Pumping OK—But Not Leaving to Breast-Feed

Mother Breastfeeding Newborn Baby
Photograph by Getty Images/Fuse

What a difference 15 minutes can make.

Kate Abra Frederick, a mother in New Hampshire, thought she was making a reasonable request when she asked her employer for a half-hour break—15 minutes more than usual—to drive to her son's daycare center to breastfeed her little boy.

Turns out the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in Conway, where she worked, didn't have the same point of view, according to the Boston Globe.

In fact, the department cited the Affordable Care Act, which protects women who need to pump milk during the workday but doesn't require employers to make special accommodations so those women can personally go and breastfeed their children.

So Frederick instead decided to stay home, and she was fired for it.

"If I went back to work and did what I needed to do for my health and [my son's] health, I would have been insubordinating," Frederick told the Globe, referring to the back-and-forth she had with her employer.

While Mark Bussiere, the Health and Human Services Department's HR director, says Frederick was allowed to express milk—it was the extended break that was the issue—Philadelphia lawyer Jake Marcus told the Globe that doesn't jibe with rigid work schedules.

Mothers who would prefer to breastfeed rather than pump often must drive to their child's daycare center at regular intervals, Marcus said, making it "nearly impossible for women without the privilege of flexible work schedules."

Adding a layer of irony, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with promoting World Breastfeeding Week throughout the state, according to The Bump.

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