Workplace Rights

Weekly (8/2/21)

Topic of the Week  Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Federal Protections for nursing mothers include the amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), which took effect via the Affordable Care Act in 2010. This legislation requires that employers provide a reasonable break time for women to express milk after the birth of a child. Since these protections may be limited, and may exclude some employees, knowing the laws in your state may help you better understand your rights.

1. How do I request a break to express breast?

There is no formal way to request a break to express milk. Employers are required to treat breaks taken to express breast milk the same as other breaks, however, employers are required to allow breast feeding moms to express milk as frequently as needed. Communication between the employer and employee can help to make this process a smooth one.

2. What does my employer have to provide me with after I request a break?

Section 7(r) of the FLSA requires employers to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to 1 year after the child’s birth. Employers must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion of coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

3. Can my employer deny me a break to express milk, but allows other employees to break for personal reasons?

No. According to EEOC guidance, an employer denying a break for breastfeeding while allowing breaks for other reasons violates Title VII, and is discrimination.

Thought of the Week

"Despite the great strides that the U.S. has made in breaking down breastfeeding barriers, gaps in the law remain. Workers don't have federally-protected breastfeeding rights and an employer is not required to compensate an employee for breaks they take to pump, [thus causing women to lose pay]. "

–Nola Booth

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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    from Little Bundle

    Facts on the benefits of breastfeeding:

    • It's lack of water usage and zero waste make it environmentally friendly
    • It reduces the risk of post-partum depression in new mothers
    • Mothers offered space at work to pump are able to breastfeed their child longer
    • Adults who were breastfed are more likely to perform better in intelligence tests


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