Women face discrimination when they are pregnant, but it doesn’t end after the birth of their child. New mothers often have to deal with discrimination or unfair treatment by their employers.
Lactating mothers, in particular, who want to support their children by providing breast milk, may find that their employers do not support them. In fact, sometimes, lactating mothers face discrimination in the workplace, even if they are federal employees.
As a new mother or someone hoping to be a mom, it’s important that you understand what lactation discrimination is so that you can protect yourself from it.
Employers should accommodate a woman caring for her child
When a woman returns to work after giving birth, she will likely need some accommodations from her employer if she hopes to continue breastfeeding her child. Thankfully, there are federal rules that protect women who ask for such accommodations.
Employers should give women adequate breaks to nurse a child or use a pump to express milk. They can require that women attend to their lactation needs during standard unpaid and paid meal breaks. Still, they should also give a lactating woman as many unpaid breaks as necessary to maintain steady production of breastmilk and prevent painful engorgement.
Additionally, companies should give a woman a private space in which to pump or nurse. It shouldn’t just be a bathroom. Unused offices or a meeting room can be sufficient for the names of a lactating mother.
A woman’s employer may expose itself to legal liability if it refuses to accommodate a woman’s lactation needs, fire her for asserting her right to express breast milk or for asking for accommodations. An attorney can advise you of your right to file a discrimination claim if something of the sort happened to you.