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Breastfeeding and workplace discrimination

In theory, federal law provides protections for working mothers who are breastfeeding. As a nation, we all have an invested interest in making sure that our children are as healthy as possible — and there’s irrefutable evidence that breastfeeding is the best way to give a child a healthy start in life.

In reality, however, nursing mothers face constant challenges in the job. It’s estimated that around 27.6 million women who could potentially bear children actually fall “in the gaps” between existing federal laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law. Even many of those who are covered under the law find their rights thwarted at nearly every turn.

What does discrimination against a nursing mother look like? Consider these examples for a start:

  • Firing a woman for asking for time to express her milk
  • Denying a woman the ability to express her milk when her breasts become painfully engorged (which can also lead to infection)
  • Denying a nursing mother the ability to express when she begins leaking milk suddenly — or the ability to change clothing.
  • Subjecting the nursing mother (or allowing her to be subjected to) “mooing” sounds when she leaves on break to express her milk or other rude comments about her breasts, their size and her lactation.
  • Not providing a nursing mother with adequate privacy in a clean, safe environment where she can pump her milk.
  • Refusing to provide storage for a nursing mother’s expressed milk (like not allowing her to keep it in the company fridge).

If any of this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone — and you aren’t without options. Talk to a New Jersey attorney today about workplace discrimination and your rights as a nursing mother.

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