A Family Dollar customer happened upon a heart-warming sign earlier this month as he attempted to enter the store. A lone mother manning the store was left with no choice but to shut the store while she pumped.
The sign the new mom, Emily Edington, put up, read, “Sorry. Had to pump for baby, and no one else is here. Be back in 30 [minutes]. Thanks.”
Though some would readily react negatively to such an inconvenience, many found it adorable and appropriate. This mother new what her rights were and didn’t let anything hold her back from doing what she needed to do. As of 2010, the federal law requires all employers give women time to pump.
Codey Burhard, the customer who happened upon the sign and shared a photo of it, wrote,
“Stopped at the dollar store and seen this … I’m sure there’s gonna be at least one customer who complains, but I support this 100 percent. It’s not the employee’s fault at all. Pumping at work is a right, and employers can’t take that away. Even understaffed, moms gotta do what they gotta do.”
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t happily end there. A few days later, we learned that there was more to Emily’s situation and that more must be done to protect the rights of new moms.
The Internet Reacts
The photo Codey posted was shared over 22,000 times when Emily responded on February 16. She had had no other choice but to close the store that day – an “act of desperation” – since Family Dollar would not comply with her needs. She wrote:
“So … I had two choices … run back and forth to pump every couple of minutes to check out customers … OR lock the doors and pump as needed—uninterrupted, because that is my right. Because any breastfeeding mother knows that pumping for a couple minutes, then running back and forth isn’t realistic because it would cause production to increase in that moment and practically immediate engorgement and letdown. Hopefully corporations will start paying more attention to their policies and our human rights and be held accountable.”
Yahoo News spoke to the new mom personally and found that Emily had actually told “several other managers and the district manager that she would need a place to pump when she was three months into her pregnancy.”
When she returned to work after eight months, however, Family Dollar still hadn’t prepared to accommodate those needs; they simply “apologized for the inconvenience,” and a corporate human resources employee told her to “run back and forth every couple of minutes to pump in between customers.”
This might be violating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
And that’s not the end of it. “By her second week back, Emily said the Family Dollar store had scheduled the new mom to work several five- to seven-hour shifts alone, with no one to man the register while she pumped milk in the back.
After working two shifts without pumping that left her ‘feverish, engorged, with sharp pains in [her] breasts and chest,’ she took matters into her own hands.”
Emily said: “I decided the only way that I would be able to use my rights was to close the store and pump. I did not expect the stress of having to figure out when and how I was going to be able to pump and the conditions that were totally in violation of the breastfeeding policy they have and against civil rights.”
She added, “I encourage all mothers to look up their workplace policy and verify that all of their rights listed are being enacted. If they’re not, do not be afraid to use your voice, and if they don’t listen after being told your needs repeatedly, do what you need to do, put up a sign, and know that you are protected.”
Make things right and do what’s best for your employees, Family Dollar. Not only is it the law, but happy employees benefit your business.