Breastfeeding is a practice that provides benefits to mothers and their newborn infants alike. Not only this, but working mothers who breastfeed may also provide benefits to their employers. Women who breastfeed their infants:
- Need to take fewer days off due to baby-related illnesses and, in general, miss fewer days during such absences;
- Typically have a higher morale than new mothers who do not breastfeed; and
- Tend to return to work from maternity leave sooner.
Perhaps these many benefits of breastfeeding encouraged lawmakers to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and thereby amend certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Now mothers who wish to breastfeed at work may be entitled to certain legal protections. The Pearce Law Firm can help ensure your legal rights are protected.
What Amendments Were Made to the FLSA?
Amendments to the FLSA now require that employers covered by the law must provide mothers with “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.” In addition, covered employers must provide a “room, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public” to allow the employee to express milk.
In other words, the FLSA requires a covered employer to provide a mother who is breastfeeding a child under one year of age with:
- “Reasonable break time,” which will obviously differ from person to person depending on her unique situation and needs;
- A “room other than a bathroom.” No matter how private or nice the bathroom is, it is not permitted under the FLSA. However, the employer may create a temporary room for breastfeeding and to express milk or designate an existing room for such purposes, so long as it meets the other requirements; and
- “Free from intrusion from coworkers and the public;” in other words, the room must be made available for the mother’s reasonable use when she needs to breastfeed or express milk. A break room or other existing room at the workplace used by the mother must be sufficiently shielded from public view and customers and coworkers must be prevented from entering the room while the mother is breastfeeding.
The FLSA amendments also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who file complaints for violations of their rights under the FLSA. Thus, an employer who demotes a mother who needs to express milk, fires her, reduces her hours or wages, or takes any other such action because you filed a complaint has violated the FLSA. Breastfeeding mothers also have certain protections under Pennsylvania state law.
Were My Rights Violated?
If your employer has refused to allow you to express milk while at work, or has provided you with an inappropriate or non-private location in which to breastfeed and express milk, your legal rights may have been violated. An experienced and knowledgeable workplace discrimination attorney will need to review the facts of your case in order to determine what legal recourse you may have. Your case may depend on the number of workers your employer employs, your employer’s policies and whether these policies were followed as well as what, if any, accommodations your employer made to permit you to breastfeed and express milk in an appropriate setting.
The Pearce Law Firm is Here to Help
Edith Pearce and the legal team at The Pearce Law Firm are committed to seeking justice on behalf of mothers in the workplace whose rights have been violated. A thorough analysis of your case, conducted by our firm, will enable us to determine if discrimination or retaliation occurred and if your rights were violated. We can then assist you in obtaining compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered as a result of this illegal treatment. Contact the Pennsylvania pregnancy discrimination attorneys of The Pearce Law Firm today.