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What you should know about pumping in the workplace

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Are you a new mother? Is your boss reluctant to give you time and a place to pump? Do you know your rights as a nursing and working mom?

A working mother was denied a private space and time for pumping by her employer, so the Department of Labor recently sued the Lubbock business earlier this year. Working moms who need to pump breast milk during work hours have specific protections in Texas. Here's an overview for you.

You don't have to pump in the bathroom

Your employer is required by law to provide you a clean and lockable area for pumping. The bathroom does not count as a private area. Nor is it sanitary. The designated space does not have to be permanent, it just needs to be available each time you need it.

You get reasonable break times

New mothers have the right to take "reasonable" breaks for expressing milk as often as is needed. This time is not required to be paid, but women can be compensated if they pump during their company's paid break policy.

This policy ends when your child is one year old

These pumping policies are in effect for one year after your child is born. That aligns with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests mothers nurse for at least a year.

You can't be fired for pumping at work

Texas passed legislation in 2015 that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against new mothers. If your employer doesn't want to give you a separate room or tries to limit your break time, it is your right to demand that your needs be met. It would be illegal for your employer to harass or terminate you because you are a mother.

Smaller workplaces might be exempt

Does your company have fewer than 50 employees? They might not be required to give you break time to pump. However, smaller employers have to prove to the Department of Labor that complying with these rules would impose an "undue hardship" on their finances or resources.

It's the law

As a mother, you're protected by the federal and state health care laws. These policies go a long way in providing safe, welcoming workplaces for new mothers in Texas.

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