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Can employers discriminate against breastfeeding employees?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination

Women in the workforce often face unique challenges that affect only them. One specific challenge can occur when a working mother returns to her job duties after having a baby. No nursing mother should have to choose between feeding her baby and returning to work.

For those who are breastfeeding, there are specific protections in place to ensure that they’re able to continue nursing. While Ohio doesn’t have any specific laws to protect breastfeeding mothers, all women in the U.S. are covered by the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act.

Time to pump must be provided

The PUMP Act doesn’t provide a specific length of time that a woman is allowed to pump per session. Instead, it notes that each woman must have reasonable break times. This break time is compensable, so it doesn’t count as an unpaid break.

This enables the law to cover women who need to pump more because they’re establishing their supply, as well as women who don’t need to pump as often because their baby is getting older. It also allows for longer sessions for women who have slower milk flow and shorter sessions for women who have a faster flow.

Dedicated location to pump is required

Employers must provide breastfeeding women with a dedicated place to pump. This must be somewhere private that isn’t the bathroom. There must not be any intrusions in the room, including security cameras that can see where she is pumping.

Waivers are possible

The law provides the opportunity for a company with fewer than 50 employees to file for a waiver of the law. This is often challenging because the employer must show that allowing a woman to pump at work would cause an undue hardship on the company.

Women who aren’t allowed to pump as needed might be dealing with discrimination. Some may face harassment over the need to pump. All violations of this law must be taken seriously. If you’re a victim of this type of situation, seeking legal guidance is wise.