Please Note: Due to COVID-19, Full-Service Telephone Consultations Available

Thatcher Law Firm
Click Here to Email the Firm
View Our Practice Areas

How Are Employers Required To Accommodate Breastfeeding Moms?

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), covered employers with at least 50 employees are required to provide non-exempt, breastfeeding mothers with:

  • Reasonable break time to express milk, as frequently as the employee has need to express the milk, for a full year after the birth of a child
  • A shielded place, other than a bathroom and free from intrusion by coworkers and the public, that the employee may use to express breast milk

FLSA-covered employers with fewer than 50 employees are expected to provide non-exempt employees with reasonable breaks in a private area unless they can show that doing so would cause undue hardship.

Employees properly classified as exempt from the FLSA are not specifically entitled to lactation breaks.

The nursing breaks are not required to be compensated except to the extent that the employer already provides compensated breaks. As with all breaks, the worker must be completely relieved of duty when using the breaks.

Finally, the FLSA prohibits any form of retaliation against nursing mothers who file complaints, cooperate or testify in any investigation, or serve on an industry committee related to their treatment under the law. That includes any form of discrimination or adverse job action, including termination.

State and local laws may offer greater benefits

Employers who operate in multiple states should be aware that some states and municipalities offer stronger protections for nursing mothers. They may, for example, require greater accommodations for lactation or protect workers who are not covered by the FLSA. They may require all lactation breaks to be paid or extend the time that the breaks must be offered beyond one year.

Maryland does not have its own law regarding breastfeeding in the workplace. Virginia does, but it mirrors the federal FLSA.

Create mother-friendly workplace policies

Ideally, your accommodations for breastfeeding mothers will be part of an overall strategy to welcome mothers back to work after birth leave. Try to provide a clean, private place for lactation that will always be available for the nursing mother. It should be completely shielded from view and, ideally, will lock from the inside. It should contain at least a chair, a table and an electrical outlet. Some jurisdictions may require easy access to a refrigerator, as well.

Work with any employees who are pregnant or breastfeeding to develop an accommodation or set of accommodations that will work for them. A quick meeting with HR upon return from leave can make the employee aware of their right to accommodations and orient them to the lactation room.

If you have questions about setting up legally compliant policies for lactating mothers, contact your employment law attorney.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • sl-2020
  • Super Lawyer Linda Hitt Thatcher
  • Washingtonian Top Lawyers
  • The Washingtonian | Washington's Top Lawyers 2018
  • The Washingtonian | Washington's Top Lawyers 2017
  • Best Washingtonian 2015
  • Top Lawyers 2013
  • Washingtonian Top Lawyers 2011
  • The Washingtonian | Washington's Top Lawyers 2009
  • Washingtonian Top Lawyers
  • AV Preeminent

Thatcher Law Firm
7849 Belle Point Drive
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Toll Free: 866-604-3882
Phone: 301-850-1246
Fax: 301-441-9602
Map & Directions