Governor’s Wife Denied Trooper a Room to Pump Breast Milk, Suit Charges

Tammy Murphy, the first lady of New Jersey, has made infant and maternal health her signature cause during her husband’s tenure as governor. She led the push for free nurse visits for newborns and expanded access to doulas during labor, with a goal of improving New Jersey’s abysmal pregnancy-related death rates.

But a gender-discrimination lawsuit, filed by four female troopers against the State Police, accuses Ms. Murphy of failing to practice what she has so often preached.

The suit claims that Ms. Murphy refused to permit a State Police trooper assigned to protect her to use a carriage house at the family’s riverside estate in Middletown, N.J., to pump breast milk during breaks.

The first lady told the woman’s supervisor, who runs the State Police unit that guards Gov. Philip D. Murphy and his family, that “it was not encouraged because of optics by guests who may be on the premises,” the lawsuit states.

Neither Ms. Murphy nor the governor, both Democrats, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Still, Ms. Murphy’s spokeswoman, Tyler Jones, cited the litigation as her reason for declining to address the specific allegation.

Ms. Jones did say that “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.”

Ms. Jones noted that the first lady breastfed her own children and is a longtime champion of “advancing infant and maternal health.”

“Under her leadership,” Ms. Jones said in a statement, “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.”

The governor’s spokesman said he had nothing to add beyond Ms. Jones’s statement.

The lawsuit asserts broad, yearslong claims of a hostile work environment by four female members of the State Police, an organization that has in the past been accused of favoring straight white men for promotions. A separate lawsuit filed last month against the State Police claimed that racial bias had prevented Black officers from advancing in rank.

The female trooper who was nursing, Claire Krauchuk, returned to work on the governor’s security detail in January after delivering her second child. She was hoping to avoid having to pump breast milk in the construction trailer outside the Murphys’ home, where she was assigned to monitor security cameras during shifts that sometimes lasted 12 hours.

“The trailer was filthy and had never been professionally cleaned,” the lawsuit states. “There was urine all over the floor in the bathroom and mold in the air conditioning.”

Officer Krauchuk’s supervisor asked Ms. Murphy whether the young woman could instead use a building on the grounds to pump milk. Many lactating women must regularly express milk to maintain a food supply for their babies and to avoid discomfort.

Ms. Murphy denied the request, a response the supervisor relayed to Officer Krauchuk and a female lieutenant who was also a member of the governor’s security detail, according to the officer’s lawyer, Michelle J. Douglass.

Then, about two days after returning from maternity leave, Officer Krauchuk was accused of several workplace violations and removed from the detail, a coveted post.

Ms. Douglass said that the alleged violations — arriving late, driving her personal vehicle to work and falsifying a time record — were “bogus” and never substantiated. A State Police spokesman said he would not comment on a pending lawsuit.

The suit, first reported by nj.com, was filed in December 2021 but was amended this week to include additional details about Ms. Krauchuk’s claims of workplace discrimination, including Ms. Murphy’s explanation about why the carriage house was off limits.

The governor and his wife live in a large home on the Navesink River, where they raised their four children. A State Police unit guards the family there, as well as at Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J.

Mr. Murphy, a second-term governor with national ambitions, now leads both the Democratic Governors Association and the National Governors Association. Ms. Murphy participates in the N.G.A.’s maternal health committee, and she has frequently spoken about her efforts to improve New Jersey’s pregnancy-related maternal mortality rates, which are among the worst in the country, particularly for Black women.

It is a priority the Biden administration shares. Last month, a federal law known as the PUMP Act went into effect, expanding protections for nursing mothers and giving more workers the right to break time and a private space to pump.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Krauchuk described years of workplace discrimination that included unwelcome sexual advances by a co-worker and losing out on promotions because she was undergoing rigorous fertility treatments before her first pregnancy.

Ms. Douglass said that she shared the first lady’s politics, and that she believed Ms. Murphy had good intentions toward improving health care for women.

“But maybe she’s just too removed from the day-to-day tribulations of working women to truly appreciate the conditions that some places of employment — especially the New Jersey State Police — provide for working women,” Ms. Douglass said.

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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