News Flash: Yes, Employers, Working Moms "Have To" Pump

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Another day, another story of yet another major company that didn't recognize the needs of pregnant and nursing workers. Tidal, the subscription-based music-streaming service owned by Jay Z, is being sued by a former employee who says she was fired the day after she asked her boss for a private room to pump, according to Pitchfork.

New York Magazine obtained a record of the lawsuit. According to its findings, Lisette Paulson had worked for Tidal on a contract basis prior to the birth of her child in May, and had been verbally offered a full-time position with the company in the fall by the interim CEO. When Paulson returned to work in September, she had a sit-down with COO Desiree Perez, during which she discussed logistics — including her need to have a private place to pump breast milk. Perez allegedly offered her use of the bathroom, and when Paulson declined, Perez asked her if she "had" to do this.

The answer? Yes. Not only did Paulson, a new mom, need a private place where she could pump milk while away from her baby, but Perez's answer — and subsequent decision to terminate Paulson — violated both national and state laws about the rights of working and pumping mothers. Paulson is also suing on the basis of sex-based discrimination: She would not have been put in this situation if she weren't a woman who had to deal with the demands of, you know, biology.

Bottom line: Being a working mom is hard enough, but it's brutal when you have to confront an employer who is out of touch with the needs of new parents — not to mention the law. Hopefully, Paulson's lawsuit will raise awareness among employers about the rights of their workers. And please, let this be the final time anyone ever thinks that the bathroom is an appropriate place to prepare a baby's next meal.
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