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New Federal Workplace Protection for Nursing Mothers

On December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that includes legislation affecting the federal rights of nursing mothers in the workplace.

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The PUMP Act requires employers to:

  • Provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for such employee’s nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee needs to express breast milk; and

  • Provide a location, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

These protections extend to both exempt (salary earner) and nonexempt (wage earner) employees.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the above requirements if they would pose an undue hardship by causing the employer “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”

Employees can sue for a violation of the PUMP Act, but before commencing an action an employee must first (1) notify the employer of its failure to provide such a location, and (2) provide the employer with 10 days after such notification to come into compliance. For a violation of the law workers are entitled to reinstatement, back and front pay and liquidated damages.

Both New York State and New York City laws provide broader protections for breastfeeding employees than the PUMP Act, as do many other state and local laws.

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