Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable time and space accommodations for breastfeeding mothers to express milk at work
Maternity Leave flies by in a blink of the eye and then it is time to go back to work. When you return to work, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law makes sure you can pump for your baby for up to one year after birth throughout the workday. Now, most employers must give nursing mothers a private place (not a bathroom) and time to express their milk during the workday.
Read frequently asked questions about breastfeeding mothers rights at work:
What Are My Rights as a Nursing Mother Under the Law?
You have the right to pump or express milk for your baby even after you go back to work. Most employers must provide accommodations for nursing mothers. Any employer who must follow the guidelines under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must accommodate nursing mothers under the Break Time for Nursing Mother’s Law.
So, what does your employer have to do for you? The law is very clear. A company must:
- Provide you with breaks to pump your milk.
- These breaks must be provided until your baby is 1 year old.
- You must be provided a room that is not a bathroom to pump for your baby.
- The room must have a door and the windows must be shielded from public view. This means the room must have a way to block people from seeing into it.
- The breaks must be as frequent as needed and for as long as needed. Some women will pump every 4 hours for 20 minutes. Others need 45 minutes to express their milk. Some must pump more frequently. There is no time limit for each pumping break.
Are My Pumping Breaks Paid?
No, the breaks do not have to be paid. The law does not require employers to pay women for breaks needed to express milk.
Many employers will not ask employees to clock out for short breaks. Breaks like bathroom breaks, smoking breaks, and most breaks under 20 minutes are on the clock. However, no law states that these breaks or any other breaks must be paid.
Pumping breaks are no different. It is up to your employer whether they want to provide you with a paid break or not. However, if the breaks are unpaid for one nursing mother, they must be unpaid for all. Otherwise, the employer may be discriminating against certain nursing employees for other reasons, like race, religion, national origin, etc.
Does My State Offer Additional or Different Rights for Breastfeeding Mothers at Work?
Many states now have lactation laws for working mothers that offer subtle differences from the federal law. Differences may include who is included in the law or how long a mother can be covered under the law.
New Jersey and New York have added breastfeeding mothers to their state discrimination laws. This addition means an employer cannot make negative employment decisions based on a woman choosing to nurse her baby.
California’s laws for nursing mothers say that any nursing mother must be given reasonable breaks for pumping. There is no age limit. Whether the baby is 3 months old or 5 years old, these laws apply.
New York, New Jersey, and California also state a nursing mom’s private room must be close to the general working area. It cannot be on a separate floor or in a separate wing of the office.
Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance requires that all employees must be given breaks to pump. The ordinance also requires this break to be extended to all nursing others, no matter the child’s age.
Florida laws match the federal statute, which gives nursing mothers 12 months to pump in a private location that is not a bathroom.
What Happens If My Employer Violates My Rights as a Nursing Mother?
Your employer must take your lactation rights seriously. These rights are not optional and cannot be discharged because they do not feel like accommodating you. Many women in fields such as teaching, nursing, corrections, and public safety have seen their rights get tossed out the window. Their employer says the pumping breaks cause undue hardships or make it impossible for the business to operate properly. Yet, many times, these reasons are false, and lawsuits are filed.
For instance, in Philadelphia, the police department refused to accommodate breastfeeding employees with time to pump or a room for pumping. As a result, a lawsuit was filed in federal court for violations of the law.
Many lactation law lawsuits result in not only changes to workplace policies, but large settlements and even class-action lawsuits. Working mothers need to stand up for their nursing rights. Otherwise, many employers will gladly let you pump in a bathroom when they feel you need to pump, instead of following the laws.
Contact Our Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you are covered under FLSA but your employer is not providing the break time or private lactation space you are entitled to, you can contact our experienced pregnancy discrimination attorneys to know your rights. Contact us today at (800) 807-2209 for a free consultation or fill our free consultation form.
With over 25 years of experience, Our firm handles any discrimination, sexual harassment, hate crime, and child sexual assault cases on both the East and West Coasts. Our offices are located in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angles, and New Jersey. Whether the issues arise in the workplace, school, religious and other sponsored organizations, or in the communities in our own back yard, our team of experienced attorneys have helped right the injustices our clients have faced.