Has your employer ever denied you a break as a nursing mother? For working mothers to return to the workforce, pumping breaks are essential. Sadly, many employers do not know how to properly handle these breaks.
What Laws Protect Nursing Mothers?
There are federal and state laws that protect a woman’s right to take a break to breastfeed or express milk. It is a basic need for both mother and baby for their health and comfort.
You can take advantage of your breastfeeding or milk expression rights if you have a public employer or you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Your employer cannot fire or retaliate against you for using these breaks.
You have the right to do the following:
- Take reasonable breaks when needed (not necessarily on a timed schedule).
- Nurse or express milk in a private room that has the necessary accommodations.
- Take breaks for one year after the child’s birth.
Who Is Not Protected?
You do not necessarily have the same rights if you are exempt from Section 7 or work for a company with less than 50 people. Smaller workplaces where it would create an unnecessary hardship and expense do not have to accommodate nursing mothers.
Nursing breaks help women everywhere achieve equality in the workplace. It can help you return to work earlier and avoid taking unnecessary time off, or even lose your job altogether.
If you are a new mother and believe that your employer is being unreasonably unaccommodating over your need to nurse or express milk, explore your legal options. A lawyer could help protect your rights and your job.