Texas Teacher Resigns After Being Refused Time to Pump Breastmilk

pumping breastmilkA Marlin, Texas elementary school teacher has resigned after the Principal of the school, Wes Brown, refused to provide her with time away from her classroom to pump breastmilk. Anna Johnson-Smith requested teacher’s aids to cover her classroom for short durations during the day so she could pump on the schedule suggested by her daughter’s pediatrician.


In an email sent to newly hired Principal Wes Brown on Aug. 1, Smith informed him she was a nursing mother and would need a room for pumping and coverage for her class at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.


She said her pediatrician advised her to pump on a schedule that mirrors her daughter’s feeding times to keep her milk supply from drying up.


Brown responded to her email with an assurance he would designate a classroom for teachers who are nursing mothers, but when school started on Aug. 27, he refused to allow aides to cover her class during the times she needed to express her milk.


Johnson-Smith, who has now resigned, attempted to compromise with the school by reducing her request for coverage by aids to just one 15 minute session per day. This request was also rejected.


After not being able to work out a solution with the school, Johnson-Smith turned to the Association of Texas Professional Educators.


“They informed me that the school was not in the wrong legally since I am not covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows nursing mothers to take breaks to express milk,” Smith said. “Teachers, as well as other employees who receive a salary, are exempt from the law.


Read the full story in the Marlin Democrat: Teacher prohibited from expressing milk resigns


Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one’s best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.


13 thoughts on “Texas Teacher Resigns After Being Refused Time to Pump Breastmilk”

  1. As a pumping mama and a teacher, this infuriates me. Shame on that principal and that school district for letting that happen.

  2. That is so sad that the principal did not value a mother enough to accommodate her need for breaks to pump. Where does he think children come from? I bet if all the students were breastfed in his school, their test scores would be higher than the rest of the schools. I work in schools and think this is horribly unjust.

  3. This sounds like a pretty clear violation of the provision in the national healthcare bill requiring employers of 50 or more people to allow space and time for nursing mothers to pump. I can’t think why the school would be exempt from that. I certainly hope she wins her case and bravo to her for taking a stand against this discrimination! That took courage!

  4. The teacher needs to push her union bosses and other unionized teachers to work with legislators to close that loophole. It only makes sense that the union would utilize some of their funds to help the many teachers who are nursing rather than wash their hands of it with a blanket, “You’re not covered, too bad so sad” response.

  5. Someone should have brought her baby to class so she could nurse. Texas law assures that a mom has the right to breastfeed wherever she’s allowed to be… I wonder how the principal would have felt about that? I think we should all send this man an email. I’m also wondering why it is ok to go against the natuinal provisions guaranteeing women a place and sufficient breaks to pump. I’m a Texas teacher hoping to not have to fight this same battle. By the way, Texas teacher’s unions are a joke.

  6. I’m a pumping elementary school teacher in Texas and it is hard! It’s so difficult to find the time to leave your class, find someone to watch them, and find somewhere private to pump (that’s not a bathroom – gross). Poor woman, I hope she discovers that staying home with her baby is so much more rewarding ( I certainly wish I was) and I hope it’s not a financial hardship for her.

  7. Just because she’s exempt from the law doesn’t mean that they should not provide this service for their employees. IMO teachers get paid crap and treated like it a good bit of the time and they’re not even allowed to provide something that would cut down on infant illness and later health problems and hence absences. How stupid! I think this should not be part of the exemption any longer.

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