Thursday, February 22, 2024

Pumping up employee lactation rights

Employers, hear to me now and believe me later — it is unacceptable to force a lactating employee to pump her breast milk in an open stockroom corner or in an open office.

That's precisely, however, what two McDonald's employees allege happened to them in two different stores.

Kathleen Faber claims in her lawsuit that McDonald's forced her to pump in the corner of a stockroom to avoid security cameras or in the bathroom to avoid male co-workers. Her co-plaintiff, Lexi Mays, claims that it forced her to pump in a back office without a door.

Their lawsuit alleges that McDonald's violated the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (the PUMP Act) by failing to provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusions from coworkers and the public" to express milk.

According to DOL guidance on the PUMP Act, if an employer that lacks a dedicated private lactation space has to create one, such as by temporarily designating an enclosed, lockable office, by offering portable lactation pods, or by other means. A stool in an open stockroom corner or a doorless office fall well short of these accommodation requirements.

Don't pump up your employment-law liabilities by ignoring these basic accommodation rights that the PUMP Act grants to new moms.