For the past two years, coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been constant and intense. Despite the barrage of news about the ACA, however, many new mothers are unaware of provisions that protect their rights to continue nursing after they return to work.
The ACA amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Enacted in March 2010, the provisions mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations for women to express their milk while at the workplace. In 2013, Bobbi Bockoras filed one of the first Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints under the new law. Her case highlights the need for legal safeguards.
When Ms. Bockoras requested a place to express milk, her employer suggested the bathroom. She protested, and was offered a dirty, bug-infested locker room. She again complained when her colleagues pounded on the door and harassed her. In response, her employer assigned her to an undesirable alternating day/night shift that affected her breastfeeding schedule.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision is straightforward. Employers must provide nursing women with:
- Reasonable break time — which can be uncompensated — for up to one year after the birth of a child for the mother to express her milk
- A place — other than a bathroom — shielded from view and free from co-worker and public intrusions
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt if following the law would impose an undue hardship.
If your employer has denied you reasonable accommodations to express your milk at work, consult with an experienced New York employment law attorney about your options.