What happens to an employer that denies a nursing mother’s rights?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigated an employer and concluded that it denied an employee break time to express breast milk in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Recently the DOL announced that investigators with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the employer denied a nursing mother her right to break time to express milk in the workplace. The employer also retaliated against the woman when she voiced concerns, investigators determined.
The investigation revealed that managers verbally discouraged the employee from taking breaks to express breast milk. Additionally, the employer failed to offer express milking facilities that were shielded from public view, or free from coworkers’ and public intrusion.
Additionally, the investigation found that the employer took retaliatory actions against the employee, including reassigning an employee to a later shift and different section of the business in an attempt to reduce impact on customer service during her pump breaks. The DOL viewed these actions as retaliatory because they came after the employee requested time and space to express milk, and the changes directly impacted the employee’s ability to earn tips.
The DOL determined that these actions established a hostile environment for all nursing mothers, discouraging them from taking their breaks fearing retaliation of losing their section or shift.
The employer resolved this DOL investigation by agreeing to train management on Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compliance, and also pay the employee backpay and damages for the retaliatory actions that reduced her schedule.
Florida employers are reminded that nearly a decade ago Section 7 of the FLSA was amended to require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” For more information about these requirements, employers can email or call the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. at 1-772-465-5111. Employers can also review a DOL factsheet on this topic by clicking this link.
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