When one employer failed to give a nursing employee private space to do so, the DOL stepped in and filed a lawsuit.
According to the suit, a Labcorp lab located in Lynwood, CA, violated the FLSA regarding lactation breaks. A nursing employee requested a private space to express breast milk. Instead, the employer told her to use a common space that was often occupied with other employees. This resulted in the employee being interrupted several times while trying to pump.
“Employers who fail to provide designated space as the law requires are creating a barrier for women willing and ready to return to the workforce,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock.
To resolve the lawsuit, Labcorp will provide nursing employees with a private space to pump, with a sign on the door to ensure no interruptions. The company also is required to update policies regarding lactation breaks in the workplace.
Lactation break requirements
Providing a private space to pump is only part of the FLSA’s requirements for nursing employees. Here are some other regulations employers need to follow:
- Must provide breaks for non-exempt employees to pump as frequently as they need to, for up to one year after the birth of their child. Frequency and length of breaks needed will vary from employee to employee. Breaks should also be provided to exempt employees, to avoid potential discrimination claims.
- The private space provided cannot be a bathroom. It must be out of view of others and be free from intrusion of both colleagues and the public.
- The space can be used for things other than lactation breaks, however it must always be available when the nursing employee needs it.
- Lactation breaks can be unpaid if the employer gives out other breaks that are unpaid. However, if non-nursing employees get paid breaks, nursing employees should be compensated for their break time as well.