Unpaid Break Time for Nursing Mothers & Fair Labor Standards Act
With the withdrawal of the GOP's replacement healthcare bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue to rule the land when it comes to healthcare laws and regulations. One notable requirement that became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010, is Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers required breaks for nursing mothers. Specifically, Section 7 requires employers 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 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. The employer must provide these things for a year after the child's birth.
Labor Department Investigates Break Time Violations by California Restaurant Company
A worker at Solvang restaurants claimed she was denied breaks entitled to her as a nursing mother (per Section 7 of the FSLA), and asserted she was eventually forced to work shifts with much less opportunities for tips. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) looked into the restaurant worker's claims that management had discouraged her from taking the breaks she needed. She also asserted that her employer had not provided an appropriate place for them. She further contended that, after she sought the required time and place to take these breaks, she was assigned to a different shift and to a different work station, actions that she said reduced her tips.
According to DOL reports from earlier this year, the Wage and Hour Division investigated Paula's Pancake House and the Belgian Café. The investigation revealed that the restaurants were not compliant with the FLSA's requirement that covered employers give unpaid break time to a worker for the purpose of expressing breastmilk for her nursing child. The restaurant company was also cited for retaliation against an employee who sought to take such breaks.
The agency concluded that the employer had created a “hostile environment” for this employee and for other nursing mothers. The DOL also concluded that the complaining worker's rescheduling and reassignment had been retaliatory and had caused her to lose income. The resulting compliance agreement called for the company to 1) conduct FLSA compliance training for its managers; and 2) pay the worker $666 in back-wages and unspecified other “damages”.
California Law Regarding Breastfeeding Discrimination
In addition to federal FLSA laws, the state of California has specific laws to protect nursing mothers from breastfeeding discrimination. If you feel you have not been afforded the proper accommodations or the breaks you are entitled for breastfeeding or lactation, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Should you have questions about your rights as a nursing mother, call and speak to an experienced California lawyer toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.