Breastfeeding Your Baby: Know Your Legal Rights In The Workplace

Law Articles

You might hear about mothers in the news who have been fired from their jobs or been asked to leave a store because they needed to pump milk or breastfeed their baby. If you are a breastfeeding mother, these stories can fill you with fear, especially if you are about to return to work. What if you lose your job? Will it be difficult to find a place to nurse your baby in public? You might be surprised to learn that as a breastfeeding mother, you have protected rights, especially in the workplace. If these rights are violated, you could have grounds for a lawsuit or a formal legal complaint.

Know Your Rights

Of course, you are not able to take your infant with you to the office, but you can take your breast pump. Breastfeeding mothers need to express milk every few hours in order to keep up their milk supply, so you will need more time than a coffee or lunch break. Some employers may find allowing you this extra time to be difficult. Furthermore, you also might find that you don't have anywhere to pump your milk at work. The bathroom is not sanitary, and if you don't have an office, what options are left to you?

You are protected by federal laws, and your employers actually must meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) , which gives the following direction for accommodating your needs as a breastfeeding mother:

  • you are entitled to reasonable break time to pump milk when needed.
  • you can continue to be allowed extra time to pump at work if your child is under one year old.
  • a room other than a bathroom should be provided for your use.
  • the room provided should allow you to pump without interruption or exposure. 

Things can get complicated if you work for a small business, however. Your employer can play tough and claim that allowing your these provisions would create undue hardship for them. This means that providing the above accommodations would be nearly physically or financially impossible for the type of business. For example, if you work for a food truck, you are covered by labor laws. But, it would be unreasonable to expect a food truck to provide a room other than a bathroom for you to pump privately, since the company itself operates out of a truck. You should still be permitted break time, but you might have to bring your own car or pump in the front of the truck instead.

Legal Actions

If your employer has acted contrary to the FLSA, you should act quickly. Your baby's health should not be up for debate in the workplace. If you have penalized at work for needing to pump to feed your baby contact a personal injury lawyer who can help you to file suit against your employer. You may not be able to sue for damages for thousands of dollars, but you could sue for a judge to force the employer to comply with the law. There may, however, be cases where you are entitled to financial damages. These include:

  • if your fired for needing to take breaks to pump. This would be a wrongful termination suit, and you are entitled to your lost income.
  • if you suffered injury from not pumping. Some women can get a severe breast infection called mastitis if they do not pump regularly. These infections are treated with antibiotics, but they can become very serious, causing high fever and the need for hospitalization and surgery if the infection goes untreated. Your employer could be responsible for your hospital bills and pain and suffering, as well as lost income from needing time off to recover. Some women also have better mental health when breastfeeding, as it can help prevent postpartum depression
  • if your child suffered from not being breastfed. Some infants do not thrive well on formula. If your employer coerced you into terminating your breastfeeding relationship and your child suffered directly as a result, there could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

​You can successfully breastfeed a work. Talk to an attorney today if you are concerned about your are or might be treated in the workplace as a breastfeeding mother. 


9 December 2015

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.