Nursing Mothers and Nursing Mother Groups

Enforcement of the Break Time Provision

Many breastfeeding workers report that their employers refuse to comply with the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law because of the lack of a clear enforcement provision and the perception that violation will not lead to any consequences for the employer. Furthermore, support from State Departments of Labor in response to complaints from breastfeeding employees has been inconsistent. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee recommends including information selected from the Request for Information on Break Time for Nursing Mothers and the Wage and Hour Division webpage on how to file a complaint, as well as on additional workplace protections for breastfeeding workers.

 

Recommended Language for Added FAQ:

Q: How will the law be enforced?

A: The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law. If your employer refuses to comply with the law, you can file a complaint by calling the toll-free WHD phone number: 1-800-487-9243. You will then be directed to your nearest WHD office for assistance. All services are free and confidential. Your employer cannot fire or discriminate against you for filing a complaint. To the extent possible, WHD intends to give priority consideration to complaints received by the agency alleging that an employer is failing to provide break time and a space to express milk as required by law to allow expeditious resolution of the matter in order to preserve the employee's ability to continue to breastfeed and express milk for their child.

 

Additional protections from discrimination:

If an employee is "discharged or in any other manner discriminated against" because she has filed a complaint or caused to be instituted any proceeding regarding break time for expressing breast milk, the employee may file a retaliation complaint with the Department or she may file a private cause of action seeking reinstatement, lost wages, and other appropriate remedies.

 

There are various circumstances in which discrimination against as employee who is lactating or breastfeeding can implicate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because lactation is a pregnancy-related medical condition, less favorable treatment of a lactating employee may raise an inference of unlawful discrimination. An employee must have the same freedom to address lactation-related needs that she and her co-workers would have to address other similarly limiting medical conditions.(https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm)

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Idea No. 95