Required Workplace Accommodations for Breastfeeding Mothers

What Accommodations Are Employers Required to Provide for Breastfeeding Mothers?

breastfeeding motherWomen who return to the workplace while still nursing are eligible for certain accommodations in the workplace under federal and state law, including having adequate space for pumping. If your workplace is not providing these accommodations, you may be able to file a claim against your employer.

Let our experienced Sacramento hour and wage attorneys discuss your claim during a free consultation to see what legal options may be available to you.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation. If you choose to work with us there are no fees while we work on your case.

Reasonable Break Times for Pumping

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state law, employers are required to provide breastfeeding mothers reasonable break periods for pumping or expressing milk while at work.

Generally, these breaks are paid as they often fall within a certain period when most other employees are also paid – cigarette or bathroom breaks.

However, if the break a breastfeeding mother needs for pumping is longer than usual, the employee may be required to clock out. Her employer may not be legally obligated to pay her for that time.

In some workplaces, although not required by law, a breastfeeding mother may have her schedule accommodated to fit her nursing schedule.

Private Space to Pump That is Not a Bathroom

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, employers must provide a space for pumping that is not a bathroom. The space must be shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.

Although a bathroom sounds like a reasonable accommodation due to its privacy, the law specifies that the pumping space may not be a bathroom due to health concerns. Bathrooms are a place where waste is eliminated from the body. Breastmilk is food, and it should not be prepared or handled in a bathroom.

In the past, nursing mothers were expected to pump milk in bathrooms, and this law was put in place for the health and safety of the baby and the mother.

The space employers are required to provide does not need to be large. It just needs to be a space big enough to fit a chair and a flat surface. Some other equipment that may be included in a lactating room, but is not required, may include:

  • Lockers
  • Electrical outlets
  • Comfortable seating
  • Breast pumps
  • White noise machine
  • Small fridge
  • Sink with running water
  • Mirror
  • Cleaning supplies

For workplaces that are smaller or limited in size, the law states that a manager’s office or a curtained-off area may be used in place of a designated space.

What Are My Options if Accommodations Are Not Provided at Work?

If you are a breastfeeding mother who is concerned about your workplace’s policy regarding pumping or lactation, it is important that you first bring up the issue to human resources. Learn about your employer’s policies on these issues. In some cases, employers have a policy that may not be frequently announced or readily available.

If you have discussed the situation with your employer, yet your needs are not being accommodated, it would be in your best interest to speak to an attorney.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today

If your employer is refusing to accommodate your needs as a nursing mother, they may be in violation of state and federal laws. You may be eligible to pursue compensation for the time lost at work and for any potential health issues that arise due to being unable to pump.

Our attorneys are prepared to review your claim to determine your legal options. The consultation is free and there are no fees while we work on your case.

Call 916-777-7777 to get started.