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Employers continue to discriminate against breastfeeding workers

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2019 | Discrimination |

A HuffPost investigation shows hundreds of working mothers across the United States continue to be discriminated against over breastfeeding their children. The report details 376 federal investigations from 2010 through 2018.

Complaints continue despite the enactment of the “nursing mothers” provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the U.S. Labor Department is responsible for enforcing. Employers broke the law in 68% of the cases HuffPost reviewed.

Provision for nursing mothers gained bipartisan support

While much of the ACA continues to spark heated political debate, the nursing mother’s law drew support from both sides of the political aisle. The law states that for up to a year after a child’s birth:

  • The employer must provide a breastfeeding worker with space to pump that is shielded from view
  • The worker must receive “reasonable break time” to pump
  • The employer doesn’t have to pay the worker unless they are regularly paid for break time
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees that can prove the law presents “undue hardship” can be exempt

The number of complaints has steadily risen

The investigation shows that claims by nursing mothers against their employers continue to increase. HuffPost says only 42 were investigated in 2011, while by 2017, the number of cases was over 70. The most common industry is retail, which accounts for 20% of all complaints involving many well-known retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Lowes and Costco.

Companies put employees and their children at risk

Mothers who experience obstacles in pumping at work face physical, emotional and financial consequences. Many can develop infections, while their children suffer from not receiving the nutritional benefits as noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which encourages mothers to feed babies breast milk for at least a year. If you are discriminated against by your employer, an experienced and compassionate employment law attorney here in Michigan will protect your rights.