I never really paid attention to stories about breastfeeding before I had babies and did it myself. It’s hard. Damn hard. Even if everything goes right, it’s hard. That’s why it blows my mind that breastfeeding women are discriminated against (yes, I said discriminated) all the time.
What is going on? Time and time again I read stories about women being kicked out of places because they’re breastfeeding or women who lose jobs because their employers won’t work around their pregnancies or support breastfeeding.
So it should be no surprise that it’s happened again.
As Freeman Klopott reports for The Examiner, a breastfeeding D.C. police officer was forced to take leave without pay after the department refused to bend a new policy and allow her to work a desk job.
Officer Sashay Brown returned to work in May after having baby number two. Originally, she worked a desk job but was soon ordered to patrol the streets under a new policy that was created to force officers who made false claims of health issues back onto the streets.
“Because of my condition, I am unable to wear my [bulletproof] vest,” Brown wrote in her June 12 request to be detailed back to her station on limited duty. “Wearing my vest is extremely painful and could clog my ducts and slow down the production of my milk supply.”
A department doctor who examined Brown even advised her employers she be given a limited-duty desk job. Still, Brown was denied the desk job and told that until department doctors approved her for full duty she’d have to take sick leave or unpaid leave if she had no sick days left. Well, she just had a baby, of course she wouldn’t have any sick days left. Many companies make you use all your sick and vacation days before they’ll allow the paltry B.S. maternity leave offered in America to kick in.
So Brown was forced to take leave without pay and she and her husband are now living on his income alone. Still, Brown says she plans to breastfeed throughout her child’s first year.
“That’s a long time to be without pay,” she said. “I’m applying for short-term disability, and am hoping they allow this to be a medical condition.”
Brown says that when she had her first baby she didn’t have any problem with the department.
“I believe the department came up with this crazy policy because they don’t have enough officers and they’re trying to get officers back on the street,” Brown said.
“Forcing breastfeeding police officers into financial ruin is not how you build morale and combat attrition,” police union chief Kris Baumann said. “Instead it is a message to all current and potential D.C. police officers that this not an agency and government that cares about its officers or their families.”
Police Chief Cathy Lanier said: “The Department’s leave policies for employees who become new parents are designed to address the medical and emotional needs of new families.” In a statement to The Examiner, Lanier said: “The Department’s lactation policy is also designed to accommodate mothers as they transition back to performing in a full-duty capacity.”
Riiiight, Chief Lanier. Keep telling yourself that.
Check out these Celebs Who Nurse in Public and on the job!