Breastfeeding Feud: Mother Says She Was Fired from Medical Center Because She Kept on Pumping

Yadiris Rivera (WCBS)

NEW YORK (CBS) Some believe "breast is best" but not one New York City medical facility, according to a mother who claims she was fired because she was pumping breast milk for her baby.

Yadiris Rivera says after giving birth to her daughter Erin she planned to breastfeed as long as she could but, she says, she was forced to stop before she, or her daughter, was ready because of an increasingly unfriendly work environment at Medical Imaging of Manhattan.

Rivera says that when she returned to work, after eight weeks of maternity leave, her bosses at Medical Imaging -- which performs mammograms among its procedures -- told her to stop breastfeeding at six months. And when she refused they made it increasingly harder for her to pump at work.

At one point, Rivera told WCBS, she was relegated to a single stall in the women's restroom.

"It was just horrible. I told them it was not sanitary," Rivera said.

Rivera says the mistreatment didn't stop with the pumping pressure; she says she was consistently penalized, for things like eating at her desk or wearing perfume that she never got in trouble for before having Erin, according to the New York Daily News.

Rivera says she finally stopped after a year but that she will always feel guilty and says her daughter is allergic to formula, according to the paper.

As a final insult she was laid off this past February. It was only after she lost her job that she became aware of a state law that requires employers with 15 or more staff to allow mothers to pump breast milk for up to three years - in a private, sanitary space that is not a bathroom.

She contacted attorney Naomi Shatz with the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has filed federal and state complaints against Rivera's former employer.

"It seems very clear to us that they fired her because she asserted her right to pump," Shatz said.

Rivera's former boss, Dr. Miriam Levy, released a statement to WCBS denying Rivera's claims.

"Ms. Rivera was terminated as part of a lay-off which evaluated the needs of the practice and the job performance of the employees selected for lay-off. We intend to defend the allegations vigorously."

Rivera says that for her part she plans to make sure that other moms know their rights so they won't be treated the way she was and forced to stop feeding their babies before they are ready.

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