Rebecca Betker is a new mom who’s running out of breast milk.
On this day she was only able to pump three ounces.
It’s well short of what her 8 month daughter Danielle needs for a full day at daycare.
“I’m supposed to send my baby without about 12 ounces,16 ounces of breast milk or formula and with them only allowing me to pump once, I’m not getting that,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca blames her employer, LabCorp, for not providing her enough breaks to pump.
See, Rebecca is a phlebotomist for LabCorp at Swedish Family Medicine.
She says LabCorp gives her two breaks to pump. The issue is when those breaks take place.
“They’ve asked that I clock in before work and then that will count as my first break, pumping. And then I can take my second break during the day and pump a second time.”
But at the times when she is consistently producing milk she can’t catch or get a break.
“By 5 o’clock I am leaking,” Rebecca explains. “And there’s nothing better than drawing a patient…all the sudden your shirt’s wet. And you’ve leaked through everything because you’ve been denied your right to pump at work.”
According federal law-most notably-the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother.
Joe Mizrahi with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 represents Rebecca in her fight to pump. “I think that this company is definitely a bad actor here. And their lack of accommodations show that they’re not willing to take care of their employees or to meet their legal responsibilities,”
He believes LabCorp is understaffing the Swedish facility,” So they don’t have coverage to cover someone like Rebecca to take an extra break to pump. But that burden, that burden of their own short staffing then falls on Rebecca. She’s the one who’s punished for that, and her baby of course,” Mizrahi says.
Alex Sosa is with the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington. It’s a statewide network of members and organizations that’s spent the last 20 years fighting for mothers like Rebecca.
“So mothers want to breastfeed but then you go into the workplace and they put restrictions on you like no you must pump at this time, or you must do it this way, or we’re going to reduce your hours, you know what choices does that leave to that mother right?
We asked LabCorp to give us its side to Rebecca’s case. In a statement the company says, “Employees are LabCorp’s most important most valuable resource, and we are committed to treating employees with fairness and respect…We have been, and will continue, working with Ms. Betker to find appropriate accommodations.”
Rebecca says since we’ve started asking questions LabCorp has made offers to buy formula and pumping equipment. And just this afternoon the company said it would find cover for her shift.
LabCorp maintains and enforces its own personnel policies, and Swedish cannot control LabCorp’s enforcement of those policies. However, we hope that any of our partners who have operations on our campuses are meeting all federal and state regulations when it comes to their employees’ rights and responsibilities. For breastfeeding needs of our caregivers, patients and patient families specifically, we work to ensure that there are private and secure rooms available for pumping or breastfeeding.
Employees are LabCorp’s most important most valuable resource, and we are committed to treating employees with fairness and respect. It is not appropriate for us to comment publicly on any individual employee’s personal circumstances. We have been, and will continue, working with Ms. Betker to find appropriate accommodations.