“Reasonable Accommodation” Law Protects Nursing Mothers

A new health care law signed on March 23rd 2010 provides working breastfeeding mothers with reasonable accommodation. It requires employers to: 1) set aside reasonable break time for the employee to express breast milk, and 2) provide a “suitable place,” other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk for a nursing child. A suitable place is one that is shielded from view and free from intrusion of co-workers and the public.

The law is part of the new Health Care Reform Act and it amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, appearing under Title IV — Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health.

Though applicable to all employers, those employers with less than 50 employees will be exempt if such requirements would impose an “undue hardship.” It will be difficult for smaller employers to demonstrate this undue hardship since significant difficulty or expense must be shown. Employers with 50+ employees must give this matter immediate attention and add this provision to their policy manuals.

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