An FDNY mechanic says an outrageous work rule forced her to do something she never would have imagined — walk around in front of her male colleagues with her breast pump attached.
“There were firemen, there were supervisors, there were mechanics,” said Vanessa Feeley, 28, of her ordeal, which she says lasted every day for nearly two months.
“Anyone who worked in the building could see me at any point,” she said.
Feeley told The Post that the Fire Department first violated federal law by not providing her with an area designated for breast-pumping at the Long Island City, Queens, repair shop where she worked.
Feeley had given birth to her second daughter in April 2018. She also has a 3-year-old.
The mom, who is the only female mechanic at the facility, said that after returning to work in July, she was forced to plunk down in messy storage areas, empty conference rooms and the offices of vacationing employees to pump.
Her bosses added that she would have to go off the clock when pumping, she claims.
So Feeley said she would use her 15-minute paid staff break, which started at 9 a.m., for at least some of her pumping, logging any extra time she needed on her computer after the fact.
Then came the final insult, Feeley said: She was told that when she went past her break, she would have to clock out right away — on a scanner located in the middle of the office, she claims.
That meant that she would have to get up from wherever she was and walk in front of everyone to log out — still wearing her device under her shirt — if she wanted to continue uninterrupted to get the most efficient milk production.
Feeley said it shouldn’t have come to that: All that her supervisors had to do was let her use one of the many laptops around so she could log out where she was.
Now she’s suing the city and the FDNY for discrimination and creating a hostile work environment, according to a notice of claim, the precursor to a lawsuit.
She also has filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
Federal law requires workplaces to provide private spaces for breast-pumping.
Feeley said that she finally took unpaid child-care leave in December because of the stress.
Her lawyer, Eric Sanders, said he expects her case will lead to a class-action lawsuit.
A city Law Department spokesman said, “The FDNY is committed to providing employees who are new mothers nursing their children with appropriate lactation spaces.
“We’ll review the notice of claim,” the rep said.
A source added that a special pod was ordered and was still being built at the facility when Feely went on leave.
The FDNY did not return a request for comment.
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