The PUMP Act is now in full effect. Both exempt and non-exempt breastfeeding moms returning to work have the weight of the law encouraging them to continue their efforts. The enforcement provision of last year’s law is in full effect from Friday, April 28. Workers may sue their employers if they’re in violation of the employees’ rights to privately pump in a non-bathroom environment and to be afforded the time to do so.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, signed into law in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, requires an employer to provide a private, non-bathroom space for up to a year. The employee shall be afforded reasonable break time to pump; most moms need two to three sessions of 15 to 30 minutes. Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (the PUMP Act) closes loopholes from the 2010 bill. Since 2010 employers have been finding creative ways to support their lactating employees. It is absolutely possible to provide a space more similar to a kitchen than a restroom. Clothing stores have set aside a changing room, agriculture has set up tents, lactation pods have been rented; empathy plus creativity have led to satisfactory solutions for 13 years. Nine million more lactating employees are covered by the legally enforceable PUMP Act.
Employers with 50 or fewer employees remain exempt if they can prove complying with the law causes “undue hardship” to the business. The 13 year history of supporting breastfeeding employees shows employers it’s not easy to prove “undue hardship.” Airlines, arguing their unique working environments need special attention, are exempt. Their opposition threatened the success of the entire bill so the PUMP Act proceeded without them. Rail and motor coach industries have three years to implement the law. Contract and Gig workers are also not covered.
Are there protections for workers exempt from the PUMP Act? The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, passed last year, goes into effect on June 27. It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for conditions relating to pregnancy, like lactating. An employer could allow time off, attend to scheduling hours or shifts that accommodate a pumping schedule, or allow the baby to come to work for feedings. While this act doesn’t have the teeth of the PUMP Act, it affords some support for breastfeeding employees that find themselves exempt from enforceable breastfeeding laws.
The lawyers at Lavi & Ebrahimian know your rights. If you are unsupported while pumping breastmilk for your baby at work, contact us. We have a 20 year record of aggressively representing employees in cases against their employers in court.