🔴 A female trooper says State Police has no adequate breastfeeding policy

🔴 She was forced to pump in unusual spots while on duty

🔴 First Lady Tammy Murphy said the "optics" would not be good if the trooper were to pump in a carriage house

MIDDLETOWN — A female trooper assigned to Gov. Phil Murphy's detail is part of a lawsuit claiming State Police have no adequate breastfeeding policy in place and that first lady Tammy Murphy would not let her pump in a carriage house while on duty at the governor's private home.

The lawsuit filed by Lt. Dawn Curran, Lt. Rebecca Hotchkin, Claire Krauchuk and Capt. Wanda Stojanov says they were discriminated against because of their gender.

Curran alleges in the lawsuit that after she gave birth to her child in 2020, she was not allowed to use the bathroom in a building at Drumthwacket, the official governor's mansion, to pump breast milk while on duty.  Instead, she had to use a "dirty" closet. Male troopers were nearby as she pumped behind a closed door.

Why does an on-duty officer need to pump breast milk on the job?

According to WomensHealth.gov, "a breastfeeding mother needs to feed her baby or pump milk about every 3 hours. Otherwise, her body will stop making breastmilk. When a nursing mother cannot pump or breastfeed, the milk builds up in her breasts, causing pain and sometimes infection. Removing milk from the breast is a biological need, similar to the need to eat or sleep."

The website says that "bathrooms are not a sanitary place to prepare and handle food of any kind," such as breast milk.

Lawsuit says she lacked accommodations

She was also forced to find places to breastfeed or pump, according to the lawsuit. In one instance, she had to pump in a car in Atlantic City with hundreds of people at an event with people were looking in the windows of the car.

At the Statehouse, she had to use a storage closet nicknamed the "lactation room" set up by State Police.

Krauchuk said that her supervisor in January violated HIPAA by asking Tammy Murphy if she could pump in a carriage house on Murphy's Middletown property. The question revealed personal health information because the question was asked without Krauchuk's permission.

Tammy Murphy’s response was that it was not encouraged because of optics for guests who may be on the premises, according to the lawsuit.

Murphy is not part of the lawsuit.

Supporter of breastfeeding

If the allegations are true, her response would run contrary to her public support of accommodating women in the workplace.

In September, she was a supporter of the New Jersey Department of Health's Breastfeeding Strategic Plan. Its goal is to coordinate statewide efforts to increase breastfeeding, improve lactation supports, and help reduce inequitable infant health outcomes.

“The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are endless—from lowering risks of breast cancer and risk of SIDS to encouraging bonding between mother and child. This plan ensures breastfeeding mothers are supported throughout their journey, increasing our breastfeeding rates and bringing us one step closer to making New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to give birth and raise a baby.”

The First Lady's Deputy Press Secretary, Tyler Jones said her office does not comment on ongoing litigation.

"However, any characterization that the First Lady would not be completely supportive and accommodating of breastfeeding, pumping, or any needs of a new mother in the workplace is outrageous and categorically false," Jones said in an email.

"The First Lady – a mother of four herself – has always supported working mothers who wish to pump in the workplace. She has dedicated the entirety of her time as First Lady to advancing infant and maternal health, and under her leadership, New Jersey has made significant strides in providing new mothers with the resources and care they need to keep themselves and their children safe and healthy."

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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