Long Island Gender Discrimination Attorneys Protect the Rights of Nursing Mothers
Long Island gender discrimination attorneys appreciate the importance and difficulty of balancing parenting with earning a living. Trying to juggle the needs of a family and a job is something that all working parents deal with on a daily basis. Being home for a sick child, taking a day off to care for a loved one, arriving to and leaving work on time are just some of the challenges parents face. Mothers, and to some extent fathers, often experience workplace discrimination that is directly related to trying to find this balance.
While federal and state laws protect both men and women from various kinds of discrimination, such as sex, race, and disability discrimination, during the last decade we have seen more and more protections that support working mothers in particular. There are laws and policies that address discrimination based on pregnancy, familial status, caregiver status and breastfeeding.
If you have experienced workplace discrimination or harassment related to pregnancy or lactation, you have rights, and you should understand them. Breastfeeding affects women only. When an employer prevents you from expressing milk at work, it may be a violation of New York State labor law and federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The Long Island sex discrimination lawyers at Leeds Brown can help hold your employer accountable for denying your right to pump breastmilk. Our gender discrimination attorneys have been protecting the rights of workers for decades. We have a unique understanding of various federal and state laws that require employers to provide certain accommodations to lactating women and protect them from harassment and unequal treatment.
New York Laws Protect and Encourage the Right to Breastfeed
It is medical fact that both mothers and their babies benefit from breastfeeding. Breastfed children have fewer infections, hospitalizations, and prescriptions resulting in a lower cost of health care when compared with never-breastfed children.
Mothers benefit from breastfeeding as well. It reduces their risk of osteoporosis and pre-menopausal breast cancer. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a national goal as a part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies in the early postpartum period to 81.9 percent by the year 2020.
These health benefits are part of the reason why NY enacted legislation to protect the rights of women who choose to breastfeed their babies and to encourage them to do so.
New York Labor Law section 206-c, enacted in 2007, states that an “employer shall provide reasonable unpaid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years after childbirth.” Employers must attempt to accommodate an employee’s request for a private place to pump milk.
The law also prohibits discrimination against breastfeeding mothers for choosing to breastfeed or for pumping milk at work. An employer may not retaliate against women who assert their rights under the law.
This law applies to ALL public and private employers in New York including New York City and Long Island regardless of the size or nature of their business.
What Does this Law Mean for You?
All employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a private place for expressing breast milk. Reasonable effort means that employer must provide a room, or space as long as it is not significantly “impracticable, inconvenient or expensive” to do so. Factors to be considered in this analysis include:
- Overall size of business
- Layout of business
- Nature of work performed at business
- Employees’ work shifts
- Relative cost of providing room or space
- Composition and size of workforce
The space provided must meet certain specifications. For example, it must:
- not a bathroom or stall
- be kept clean by the employer
- have a lock or, as a last resort, a sign
- be an enclosed room or if necessary, a closed cubicle
- be in close proximity-walking distance
- be private
- be well lit
- have blinds or curtains on any window
- have a chair and flat surface such as a table
If you are a Long Island lactating employee, you have a very clear and specific right to express breastmilk for the health and well-being of you and your child. If your employer fails to provide you with the proper time and accommodations to pump, consider speaking with a sex discrimination attorney at Leeds Brown. Breastfeeding is an issue that only affects women, and your employer’s failure to work with you and comply with the law may violate gender discrimination and other laws.
Federal Law Also Protects Some Long Island Nursing Employees
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Part of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable, unpaid, time for an employee to express milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has a need to express milk.
The employer must also provide a place for the employee to express breast milk. The place may not be a bathroom. If these requirements impose an undue hardship, an employer with fewer than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. New York Labor Law offers protection to many more women, for a longer period than the ACA amendment to the FLSA.
Gender Discrimination and Breastfeeding
When an employer violates the FLSA or NYS Labor law and does not provide the proper accommodations and allowances for a lactating woman, she may choose to file a complaint against her employer. Under NYS law a woman is specifically protected from discrimination and retaliation for breastfeeding or exercising her right to do so.
However, a woman who experiences such discrimination may also have a claim for gender discrimination under NY law and/or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Only women lactate. Because of this, any policy or practice that singles out lactating women may be sex-based. For example, the EEOC guidelines state that it may be gender discrimination under Title VII when an employer freely allows employees to use break time for personal reasons except to express breast milk. Obviously, such a policy would only impact women and as such, its enforcement would likely result in Long Island sexual discrimination.
Long Island gender discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown can help if you are experiencing pregnancy or lactation related harassment or discrimination at work. In New York, you have the right to express breast milk at work for several years after the birth of your child. You should not be treated unfavorably for choosing to exercise this valuable right.
Contact our office if your employer is not providing you with the accommodations you need to express milk safely. By speaking with an experienced sex discrimination attorney, you can understand your rights and get help to determine the best way to proceed to secure the outcome you desire.
At Leeds Brown, our Long Island sex discrimination attorneys can assist you to understand how the New York and Federal laws may apply to your particular case. We know how to file a timely and persuasive claim and how to deal with the various agencies that oversee discrimination cases. We take a hands-on approach to all matters and can provide clients with passionate representation that achieves successful results.
Call us today for a free consultation at -1-800-585-4658 to learn more. Leeds Brown has someone here to take your call 24/7.