Last week, ACLU Nationwide sent a letter to a Colorado employer, documenting multiple violations of the federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law and the state’s “Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mother’s Act.”
In the letter of complaint, ACLU said that DISH Network failed to accommodate nursing mothers at the company’s corporate headquarters in Englewood, where employees are forced to pump breast milk in front of their co-workers and supervisors, without privacy screens or curtains, and at a DISH Network call center in Littleton, where the lactation room is located inside a bathroom in direct violation of federal and state law.
According to the ACLU’s complaint, the lactation room in one of the buildings at the DISH Network headquarters was so small and crowded that women were forced to pump while sitting on the floor.
While calling on DISH Network to provide adequate space and privacy in all of its lactation rooms so that multiple nursing employees can pump privately at the same time, ACLU sent a clear message to all the employers in the country: it is the employer’s sole responsibility to accommodations the law requires and honor the rights of nursing mothers.
The Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mother’s Act, passed by the Colorado legislature in 2008, as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as amended by the Affordable Care Act in 2010, require employers to provide sufficient private spaces other than a bathroom, for nursing employees to express breast milk, shielded from the view of all other co-workers and the public.
Many states have the similar law to protect nursing mothers. Here in California, Labor Code requires the employer to make reasonable efforts to provide the nursing employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.
Federal Law also support nursing mothers at work place. Effective March 23, 2010, federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law requires employers to provide break time and a place for hourly paid workers to express breast milk at work. The law states that employers must provide a “reasonable” amount of time and that they must provide a private space other than a bathroom. They are required to provide this until the employee’s baby turns one year old.
This law is part of Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 2011.
If you are a nursing mother or a employer with nursing employees, there are several requirements under the law you need to know.
General Requirements: Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”
Time and Location of Breaks: Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will like vary. A bathroom is not a permissible location under the act.
Coverage and Compensation: Only employees who are not exempt from section 7, which includes the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements, are entitled to breaks to express milk. While employers are not required under the FLSA to provide breaks to nursing mothers who are exempt from the requirements of Section 7, they may be obligated to provide such breaks under state laws.
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