New mothers have been breastfeeding since the human race first inhabited the earth, but apparently, many people, such as Donald Trump, still get upset at the idea of women taking time out of their workday to either breastfeed their child or pump breast milk for their child. Hopefully, you or someone you know hasn’t had to deal with someone calling you “disgusting” for breastfeeding.
However, even with a supportive work environment, maybe you’ve faced challenges in either breastfeeding or pumping breast milk at work? Whether it’s an unaccommodating employer or a job that makes it inherently difficult to take time to breastfeed, it can be very difficult for new mothers to find time to pump breast milk. This blog post will briefly touch on some of the challenges mothers face as well as their legal options.
Sometimes, the nature of a mother’s job presents logistical problems to her desire to pump breast milk. Take schoolteachers, for example. They usually work at schools with very tight schedules and crowded classrooms, which provide almost no time and little privacy for breast milk pumping. With the economy the way it’s been the past few years, state budget cuts have led to less room and fewer teachers, making it even harder to pump breast milk at school.
The Washington Post recently published an article describing some of the different challenges schoolteachers face when trying to pump breast milk at school. The article, titled “Four Teachers Detail Why It’s a Struggle
to Pump Breast Milk at School,” also touches on how state and federal laws do not yet fully accommodate working mothers’ struggles to breastfeed their children.
Currently, federal law only requires that hourly paid workers be provided a break of reasonable duration to pump breast milk. Salaried and other types of employees generally do not enjoy this benefit. However, some states, like California and Oregon, have more accommodating breast pumping labor laws that allow salaried employees to take time and space at work to pump breast milk.
State and federal breast pumping laws are quite complicated. We have already discussed the federal laws in depth, and you can obtain more information in our Huffington Post blog titled “What the Law Says About Pumping Breast Milk at Work” and on our website in an article titled “Breast-Feeding.”
More information about breastfeeding laws at the state level can be found in an article on the Breastfeeding Law blog, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website on “Breastfeeding State Laws.”
Summing It Up
Generally speaking, federal law only allows employees working hourly wage jobs to pump breast milk at work. Some states, such as Oregon and California, go further and apply workplace breast pumping protection laws to salaried workers.
Even if workplace superiors or laws allow for pumping breast milk at work, certain professions, such as schoolteachers, can have an especially difficult time pumping breast milk on the job.