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Nursing Mothers’ Rights to Pump at Work


Federal and State Laws Provide Nursing Moms the Right to Receive Reasonable Accommodations to Pump at Work.

The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision is a federal act providing nursing mothers the right to pump at work. It mandates that employers must provide nursing mothers a private space (other than the bathroom) and the time to pump breastmilk at work. The law applies to almost all employers, no matter the number of employees. Refusing a breastfeeding mother the right to pump breastmilk at work violates the law.

If your employer denies you the right to a reasonable accommodation to pump at work, you have the right to seek compensation. You need a pregnancy discrimination lawyer to help you fight for your rights and the justice you deserve. The employment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey can help you fight for your rights to reasonable pregnancy accommodations.

What Are Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Employee at Work?

The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that employers must provide proper accommodations to nursing mothers in the workplace. The law set up specific criteria employers must follow to accommodate working mothers still nursing their babies. Employers must provide the following accommodations for nursing moms during working hours:
  • Provide a private room shielded from view. The room cannot be the bathroom.
  • Allow as many pumping breaks as needed for the 1st year after a child is born.
  • Allow each pumping session to last as long as needed.

Do Employers Have to Pay Employees During Pumping Breaks?

Employers do not need to pay employees for their pumping breaks. However, under the federal lactation laws, if an employee chooses to use employer-provided paid breaks to express breastmilk, she must get paid.

Do Small Companies Have to Abide by Lactation Laws?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision details. Any business that must abide by the FLSA must abide by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision.

FLSA Exemptions

The FLSA applies to almost all employers. There are very few exemptions. Exemptions include very small farms without outside workers or a small business that employs family members only, to name a few.

Do State Laws Provide Additional Rights to Nursing Mothers at Work?

Many states have lactation laws that provide additional rights to breastfeeding mothers.

  1. The New York State Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act allows mothers up to 3 years after a child is born to pump at work. The lactation room must be private and shielded from view. However, it must also be close to the work area.
  2. The Workplace Breastfeeding Rights in New Jersey and California allow mothers to pump at work for an unlimited number of years after childbirth. The lactation room must be private and shielded from view. It must also be close to the employee’s workspace.

When Doesn’t an Employer Have to Follow the Law?

Some employers can avoid following the law. They must prove that abiding by the law would cause severe stress for the company, otherwise known as undue hardship. Here are the criteria to prove undue hardship by providing breastfeeding accommodations:

  • The cost of the accommodation may be too high.
  • The financial resources and type of building or facility may not be conducive to the accommodations.
  • The accommodations may have a negative impact on the workplace and other employees.
  • The employer’s operation may not be big enough to accommodate the needs of the pregnant employee.
  • The operation of the business may not be conducive to providing accommodations.

What Should an Employer Do If Providing a Nursing Break Room Creates an Undue Hardship?

If your request for a reasonable pregnancy accommodation to pump or express breastmilk creates an undue hardship, your employer must try to find another accommodation. You and your employer should work together to find a reasonable accommodation that helps you and your employer.

For instance, your employer may offer a supervisor’s office for you at certain times during the day. The office will likely have a door and some privacy to allow you time to pump when needed.

Can Your Boss Fire You from Work Rather Than Provide You a Nursing Accommodation?

You cannot get fired from work because you need to express your breastmilk. You cannot get fired from work because you requested breastfeeding accommodations. Any retaliation, such as wrongful termination, demotions, reduction in hours, and other forms of punishment, violates the law.

When Should You File Your Claim for Pregnancy Discrimination?

If your employer refuses to accommodate you by allowing pumping breaks or retaliates against you, you have the right to file a lawsuit under the FLSA. The FLSA sets a statute of limitations of two years to file a lawsuit unless they can prove the employer purposefully violated the law. Then, the employee has three years to file a complaint.

What Type of Compensation Can You Expect for Your Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?

When your boss denies you the reasonable accommodations to pump breastmilk at work, the courts may offer financial remedies as well as injunctive relief to help compensate you for your trouble. Some of the remedies may include forcing your boss to provide the accommodations requested, reinstatement of your job and benefits, and financial relief for lost wages, benefit premiums, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

Discuss your compensation options with a qualified pregnancy discrimination attorney to determine the relief you should request in settlement and from the courts.

How Can a Qualified Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Help You File Your Claim?

As a nursing mother, you have rights under federal and state laws to express your breastmilk in a safe and private environment. Your employer must provide you the proper accommodations to meet this right. When they deny you the proper accommodations, you have the right to seek justice.

A dedicated pregnancy discrimination lawyer can help you file your claim against your employer for discrimination. They can help you determine the laws best suited for your claim and the proper time limit to file your claim. Finally, your employment discrimination lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement early with your employer and advocate for you in court if your employer refuses to negotiate.

The Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group Are Ready to Help

A nursing mother needs to express breastmilk to feed her baby. For safety and health reasons, she needs a safe, clean space. Without these accommodations, she can have health problems, or the milk could be contaminated. If you are the victim of violations of the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision, the Derek Smith Law Group’s experienced employment lawyers can help.

Are You a Nursing Mother Returning to Work? Did Your Employer Refuse Your Request for a Sanitary and Private Room and Time to Pump Breastmilk? Please Call Us at 800.807.2209 to Learn More About Your Rights.

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