New Mothers in the Workplace: What are my Rights Regarding Pumping Breast Milk During the Work Day?

Coming back to the workplace after having a child can be stressful. Whatever type of care you choose for your child while you are at work there will be issues. What kind of protections exist for working mothers and what kind of rights or responsibilities does your employer have?

Breast feeding and pumping.

Under state and federal laws, employers may be required to give mothers time and a space for them to pump breast milk. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (sometimes better know as “Obamacare”) changed the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” (http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/). Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

Only employees covered by the FLSA are covered by this new federal requirement. If one is considered an “exempt” employee for the purposes of other areas of FLSA coverage like overtime, then employers probably do not need to provide the time and space for breast milk pumping under the FLSA.

If an employee is not covered by the changes under the FLSA, they may still be covered under state laws. Many states have laws that mandate that employers give mothers time and a place to pump breast milk. Some states have stronger laws than others. For instance, in Georgia, OCGA 34-1-6 says:

“An employer may provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The employer may make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location (in close proximity to the work area), other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express her milk in privacy. The break time shall, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer is not required to provide break time under this Code section if to do so would unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”

Other states have similar laws that protect mothers’ right to pump breast milk for their infant child. A good resource for state laws on breastfeeding/breast milk pumping in the workplace is this guide from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As always, talk to an attorney in your jurisdiction. Attorney Benjamin Kandy is barred in the State of Georgia and is more than happy to speak with you about employment issues like discrimination against new mothers in the workplace.

This is not legal advice. This page does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Attorney Benjamin Kandy.

 

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