Pumping mom threatened at work by HR uses law to protect her rights
While driving home from work a Breastfeeding mom, whom was pumping, realized she had forgotten her phone. The mom went back to her workplace and an HR staff member stopped and asked if she was pumping, though she was fully covered.
She was honest and according to the mom, “he said I cant do it in a public place and that he will discuss my consequences with me tomorrow cuz I’m in violation of company policy and that I was in an area with food present. “.
This HR staff member not only threatened this employee, he also violated federal law that protects all moms from being threatened or harassed for public breast feeding, which also includes pumping breastmilk both on the clock and off. I won’t even go into the ‘food present’ comment being that we are all well aware breast milk itself is food.
All fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.cited: https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx
The mom further explains in her Facebook post that she was in a community room on the computer. “No one was near me and you didnt even notice until you actively looked at me. ” She also mentions that she was not on the clock when all this happened.
Another thing to note is this mom had previously encountered other issues with pumping while on the clock. The HR department and her boss were not allowing necessary and legal breast milk expressing [pumping] breaks to accommodate her breastfeeding schedule needed to keep up her supply for her baby’s nutritional needs. Her supply was dropping and her health was being put at risk of milk duct clogs occurring, which could lead to mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection in lactating mothers.
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 30, 2010. (See the combined full text of Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152 here.) Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) to require an employer 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 milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose.cited: https://www.ncsl.org/
This mother reached out to a breastfeeding support Facebook group to inform other mothers of her situation and to reach out for support on these violations she was experiencing. No employee names or company information was stated in her posts.
The following workday she took appropriate steps to address her dispute with “higher ups” in the company to seek compliance support on the laws, to address her grievances on the inappropriate treatment towards her by the HR dept., and to resolve her pumping break scheduling issues.
By standing up for her rights and not fearing repercussion, instead giving the company an opportunity to redeem themselves and make this a learning experience, the mom was able to get the breaks she needed. Doing so also allowed the company to properly verse the HR department on public and private breastfeeding laws. This will help her and other breastfeeding moms both maintain employment while maintaining breastfeeding their baby through expressing necessary breast milk at work.
The mom celebrated in an update post stating, “I got my break times approved!!!! 30min breaks to pump every 2 hours.”
Congratulations mom! Great job standing up for yourself, your health, your baby and all breastfeeding moms in the workplace. It’s stories like these that help other moms find the confidence to do the same.
It’s important to know that the pump breaks given to these moms are unpaid and this mom had agreed to extend her work hours to longer shifts. The longer shifts helps her to make up for the breaks so that she is still adhering to the company work hour policy in completing a full on the clock paid work shift the same as her fellow coworkers.
Most employers are well versed in these laws and will follow them accordingly to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. Unfortunately, there are some workplaces that still need to catch up on understanding these laws and what exactly they mean for their breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
This is why it’s important for all moms to know breastfeeding laws and to feel comfortable and safe going to their workplace HR department with the ability to discuss accommodation of their rights; especially when they feel their rights are being violated by any staff member or the company in whole.