Mother headache while carrying a baby at work

Lawyers Protect Nursing Moms from Gender Discrimination

At Leeds Brown Law, P.C. our gender discrimination attorneys understand how difficult it is to juggle family and work. Moms and Dads often have to miss days at work, leave early or arrive late to care for a sick child or loved one. Seeking a balance between parenting responsibilities and earning money is something many employees deal with on a daily basis. For working mothers, finding this balance has historically been quite difficult.

There are numerous laws that protect male and female workers from discrimination based on characteristics like sex and disability. During the last decade or so, federal, state and local governments have enacted new laws and expanded old ones to provide more support to working women in particular. Now, in many circumstances, workplace discrimination based on pregnancy and nursing may be unlawful.

Have you experienced employment discrimination or harassment because of pregnancy or breastfeeding? If so, you should understand what your rights are. When your employer prevents you from expressing breast milk during work hours, it may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and New York State laws against gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and familial status discrimination.

If you are being denied the right to pump breastmilk, sex discrimination lawyers at Leeds Brown can help hold your employer accountable. We have amassed decades of experience handling employment discrimination claims and protecting workers on Long Island and in the New York metro area. Our highly skilled legal professionals have a unique understanding of the different laws that bind employers to accommodate and protect lactating women in the workplace.

New York Laws Protect the Right to Breastfeed at Work

All employers in New York, regardless of size, are required by New York Labor Law to make reasonable efforts to allow employees to express milk privately for up to three years after their child is born. (Federal Labor Law also provides the right to breastfeed at work but is less strict than the NY rules.) Reasonable effort means that an employer must provide a space, preferably a room as long as it isn’t significantly “impracticable, inconvenient or expensive” to do so. Considerations include:

  • The size and makeup of the labor force of the business
  • The structure of works shifts
  • The physical layout of the business
  • The nature of the work conducted at the business
  • The overall size
  • The cost of providing the space or room relative to the business

The space must meet some specifications such as:

  • The area must be an enclosed room or, if there is no room, a cubicle closed on all sides.
  • It may not be a bathroom or bathroom stall
  • The space must have a chair and a flat surface of some kind such as a table or counter
  • It must have a lock or if necessary a sign indicating it is a private space
  • It must be a short walk from lactating employees workspace
  • It must be private
  • The room or space must have adequate lighting
  • If there is a window, it must have curtains or blinds to allow for privacy
  • The employer must maintain the cleanliness of the space

If you are a lactating employee and you work in New York, you have a very clear and specific right to express breastmilk at your place of employment if you choose to do so. If your employer does not allow you the proper break time and adequate space to pump, you may have a claim against your employer under New York labor law or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Consider speaking with one of the employment discrimination lawyers at Leeds Brown and find out if your Long Island employer is violating your workplace rights.

Federal Law Also Protects Nursing Employees

Part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 amends the FLSA and requires covered employers to provide reasonable unpaid time for a worker to express milk for her child for one year. The employer must provide a space to do so that cannot be a bathroom. If the requirements pose an undue hardship to an employer with less than 50 employees, the employer does not have to comply.

Working women on Long Island who choose to breastfeed have an opportunity to receive significantly more benefits and protections under New York Labor law than under federal law.

Gender Discrimination and Breastfeeding Under Title VII

A working woman who is discriminated against or not provided with adequate accommodations for lactating in NY may file a claim under a number of different state laws.

However, she may also have a claim under Title VII, the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. Only females can experience discrimination based on pregnancy.  Only females lactate and can nurse their babies. What this means is that any employment policy that singles out lactation may be gender based and a violation of the law. An example of this, according to the EEOC, would be if an employer allows break time to be used for anything except pumping breast milk or has a rule against bringing breast pumps to the office. Obviously, since only employees who are women would be affected by such policies, they would violate Title VII’s provisions against gender discrimination in employment.

Contact Us

At Leeds Brown, we have employment discrimination attorneys who can help if you are unfairly treated because you are breastfeeding. Expressing milk at your workplace is your legal right, and under New York law you may be able to collect monetary damages when your employer violates this or other important workplace rights.

If your employer is not accommodating your need to safely and privately express milk, contact our office to speak with a sex discrimination lawyer at Leeds Brown. We can help you understand your rights and determine the best way for you to proceed to secure a successful outcome. Whether your claim falls under New York law, or you are better off filing under Federal law, we can help investigate and compile a strong case that can result in the outcome you want.

We pride ourselves in taking a hands-on approach to all cases that involve the violation of workplace rights and we do so with passion and skill. Contact us today for a free consultation at -1-800-585-4658 and to learn more about your sex discrimination claim. Leeds Brown has someone available to answer your call at all times.