The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced on Tuesday that it had won an confidential settlement in a discrimination case on behalf of teacher Heather Burgbacher, who claimed she was fired last year for pumping breast milk at work.
"This is the first public settlement of a legal challenge brought under the Colorado Nursing Mothers Act, a 2008 law safeguarding a woman’s right to continue breastfeeding when returning to work after having a baby," read a statement from the ACLU of Colorado.
Burgbacher had been teaching at the Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen for five years when she had given birth to her second child. She had decided to breastfeed her child, arguing that she "was only trying to do what all medical experts agree is best for our baby."
In response she alleges that her supervisor suggested she feed her child using baby formula instead and ultimately terminated her over her pumping schedule.
The Colorado Nursing Mothers Act requires employers to make "reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express breast milk in privacy."
In the complaint, Burgbacher alleged that the school failed to provide her with a private place to express breast milk or someone to cover her classes for the 20 minutes during the day she needed to pump breast milk at work.
“To its credit, RMAE has agreed to make significant policy changes that I feel confident will ensure that the next nursing mom working at RMAE will have the workplace support she needs to nurse her baby for as long as she wants,” said Burgbacher in a statement. “I am deeply satisfied with this settlement.”
ACLU of Colorado staff attorney Rebecca Wallace also said she was pleased with the outcome.
“By bringing Ms. Burgbacher’s story to light and enforcing the Nursing Mothers Act, the ACLU hopes to change the old-fashioned view held by some employers that a model employee is one that does not get pregnant, does not give birth, does not breast feed, and does not have child-care responsibilities. RMAE’s steps in resolving this case serves as a model to other employers.”