Breastfeeding Discrimination

May 29, 2018
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Many different types of workplace discrimination can occur. One of the most common situations that arises is when a woman becomes pregnant and is treated unfairly by her employer as a result. A Maryland pregnancy discrimination attorney can provide representation in these situations, assisting women with children in taking legal action against employers.

Pregnancy discrimination is not restricted only to situations where a woman is treated poorly by an employer because she is pregnant or because she has taken maternity leave. Discriminatory behavior can persist even after the baby is born, when many mothers are subject to breastfeeding discrimination.

Breastfeeding Discrimination is a Common Problem in the Workplace

In 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended by the Affordable Care Act to mandate that employers provide reasonable breaks so mothers could express breast milk for a nursing child. Employers need to allow for these breaks for up to a year after the birth of the child and must provide the breaks each time that the mother needs to pump breast milk. Further, employers are required to provide employees with a place to pump breast milk that is private. This must be a location other than the bathroom.

Employers are not, however, required to pay a mother for break time that she takes due to the fact she is breast feeding unless employers generally provide compensated break time, in which case a mother’s breaks must be compensated just as any other employees would be.

Employers could potentially face legal consequences for trying to make a nursing mother use the bathroom to pump breast milk instead of providing another private space or could potentially face legal consequences if they discriminate in the hiring, firing, or terms and conditions of employment as a result of the fact a woman has become pregnant or a woman has chosen to breast feed and must pump milk.

Because only women can lactate, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission views breastfeeding discrimination at work as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. Further, if an employee is harassed or treated inappropriately at work as a result of breastfeeding, this could be viewed as a type of unlawful hostile work environment discrimination for which employers could be held responsible.

In addition to these federal laws, many states also have laws protecting breast feeding mothers. In Washington D.C., for example, employers are prohibited from discriminating against mothers based on pregnancy related conditions or based on breast feeding.  Employers in Virginia are also prohibited from terminating female employees because they are breast feeding.

Despite the fact that employers are required to provide breaks for breast feeding and are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of a mother’s nursing, there are many situations in which employers behave inappropriately.

If you believe you were victimized by pregnancy discrimination or by breast feeding discrimination, you should contact a Maryland pregnancy discrimination attorney for help as soon as possible. You may be able to make a complaint against your employer and could potentially be entitled to file a civil lawsuit to obtain monetary damages as a result of unlawful workplace discrimination. Call The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. at 410-514-6099 or contact us online today.