MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Motherhood suits Marissa Glatzer. Her face lights up when she mentions even the name of her 5-month-old daughter, Hannah.
When she headed back to work as an assistant public defender, Marissa was determined to continue to breastfeed her baby.
“It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of pressure,” she told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
That stress hit a new high during a recent encounter with County Court Criminal Judge Fred Seraphin.
One day before a DUI trial last week, Glatzer told the Judge she would need occasional breaks to pump breast milk during trial. His reaction was far from what she expected.
The exchange was recorded in the courtroom:
“I have to pump every three hours and I’m trying the case,” Glatzer told the judge.
“So I guess you’ll find somebody to cover for you?” Judge Seraphin responded.
“No? Well I’m not going to take a break just because you need to pump,” said Seraphin.
Glatzer says she was shocked by the reaction.
“Here I am at work, trying to keep working be a working mother and just provide food for my child and I’m being told that’s not important enough of a concern,” she said, incredulously.
Glatzer says other judges allow breaks for pumping, and some even provide her a room to do it.
In addition to being denied, she’s equally incensed that Judge Seraphin told her to put another lawyer on her case one day before trial.
This is how the exchange went, according to the audio recording:
“Judge, I’m the only supervisor that’s available,” said Glatzer.
“There are other attorneys that can try a DUI case in your office,” responded Seraphin.
Seraphin then finished by saying, “Listen, listen. I appreciate it. We’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
Marissa was left stunned.
“I’m a trial attorney, that is my job and to say I can’t be a trial attorney and represent my client to the best of my ability simply because I need to take a 15 minute break every few hours. It’s ridiculous.”
Katie Phang, Secretary of Miami-Dade’s Chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers says not allowing breaks to pump is unacceptable.
“It is discriminatory because it’s specific to a woman, and even more so, it’s specific to a working mom,” she told Zea.
Phang says the community needs to be sensitive to breast feeding and pumping needs.
“These are things that Mother Nature dictates, outside of control of a judge, outside of the control of the mom, and we need to be able to accommodate working moms to these kinds of demands.”
The breast pump issue got the attention of Administrative Judge Sam Slom who immediately called for a meeting with Glatzer, her boss and Judge Seraphin. In that meeting, Glatzer says she got an apology.
Judge Seraphin turned down CBS4 News’ repeated requests for an interview and pushed off the DUI trial for unrelated reasons.
Glatzer believes after her ordeal, she and other women in this courthouse will now be allowed to pump without problem.
“I’d like to think there was a lesson learned,” she said.