Break Time for Nursing Mothers Required under the FLSA

In a previous blog article posted September 22, 2009, Lactose Intolerant?, we reported that the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that an employee terminated for taking unauthorized breaks to pump breast milk was not discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy when the former employee's deposition testimony revealed that the employer did not know the reason for her unauthorized breaks.
However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), signed into law on March 23, 2010, requires unpaid break time for nursing mothers. The PPACA amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In July 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor issued Fact Sheet #73 titled, "Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA" to provide general information on this requirement.

The general requirements include "reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk or her nursing child for 1 year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk" and "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". Employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother.

Only non-exempt employees are entitled to breaks to express milk under the Fair Labor Standards Act, although individual state laws may impose such requirements.

See a full copy of Fact Sheet #73.

Author: Ann Eberts

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