Eligible employees (those entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act) have a right to reasonable break time to express milk for 1 year after the birth of a child. Understanding that each individual will have different needs, employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing employee. The frequency of breaks as well as the duration of each break will likely vary.

Additionally, you are entitled to a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, in which to express milk. A bathroom, even if private, is not a permissible location.

You might also live in a state that allows greater protections to employees to express milk (for example, providing compensated break time, providing break time for overtime-exempt employees, or providing break time beyond 1 year after the child’s birth).

In addition, you have protections against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Because lactation is a pregnancy-related medical condition, less favorable treatment of a lactating employee may raise an inference of unlawful discrimination. An employee who is lactating must be able to address lactation-related needs to the same extent as she and her coworkers are able to address other similarly limiting medical conditions. For example, if an employer allows employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for routine doctor appointments and to address non-incapacitating medical conditions, then it must allow female employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for lactation-related needs.

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