Just as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) forbids pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, nursing mothers are also provided protection against unfair treatment.
Mothers who have returned to work may be entitled to certain accommodations.
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) allows for nursing mothers to have certain accommodations in place at work. Not making these allowances would be discriminatory to those working mothers who have chosen to breastfeed their babies. The FSLA outlines the two following broad requirements:
- Reasonable break time to express milk
- A private location to pump
The break times and duration are dependent upon the need of the mother and are likely to vary throughout the day. The location must not be a bathroom, and it must be private enough that coworkers and the public are not intrusive.
Washington state laws
While federal laws set a minimum that employers must meet, some states have chosen to enhance these requirements by offering additional accommodations for nursing mothers. The FSLA sets the timeline for these nursing statutes at one year. Washington state lengthens the duration of time employers are to provide this accommodation to two years.
There are additional federal and state stipulations involving undue hardship. These would exempt an employer from complying with the nursing regulations. However, if your employer claimed undue hardship and you believe their denial is discrimination instead, you should know your rights as a nursing mother.
The EEOC, FSLA and Washington state laws have enacted protections for nursing mothers who have returned to work.