Women who have babies often have to return to work as little as six weeks after the baby is born. Some of those new mothers might be breastfeeding. This poses a unique conundrum for work because a mother can’t just stop pumping breastmilk because she’s at work.
Federal law gives women special protections in the workplace if they’re breastfeeding a baby who’s up to 12 months old. These women are allowed to pump breastmilk at work under the law. Employers aren’t legally allowed to retaliate against women for exercising this right.
What are employers required to do?
Employers are required by law to allow women to take unpaid breaks to pump. They also have to provide a private spot for them to pump. That place can’t be in a bathroom. It must be free from intrusions. The employer must provide at least a chair and a flat surface for the woman.
There are a few ways that employers can handle breaks for breastmilk pumping. They may offer breaks that are scheduled, but they should remember that more frequent breaks are needed for mothers of younger babies so they can continue to produce the milk the baby needs. Mothers of older babies may not need frequent breaks because the milk supply is already established.
Any worker who’s facing discrimination or harassment because of the need to pump breastmilk is facing gender-based discrimination. It’s crucial to understand what legal rights you have. Taking legal action may be necessary to resolve the matter. These situations can become complex, so it’s important to have experienced legal guidance.