In the modern workplace, an alarming number of employers are completely unaware that laws exist, at both the state and federal level, requiring employers to provide accommodations to lactating employees in the form of lactation rooms. Failure to do so in most states carries civil penalties and fines.

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For example, section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) states that employers must “provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.” To do this, the employer must “provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.” Employers who willfully and repeatedly violate the statute can be fined up to $1,100 for each violation. Criminal penalties range from a fine of $10,000 to six months in jail, depending on the circumstances.

In California, Section 1030 of the Labor Code states that “every employer, including the state and any political subdivision, shall provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child.” The location should be “a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.” The room may include the place where the employee normally works if it meets these requirements. A violation of this code carries at civil fine of $100 per violation as well as a potential citation from the California Labor Commissioner. Numerous other states have civil statutes similar in both scope and penalties.
Given all this, it is important that employers both know the law and remain consistently in compliance. To do this, it is good to create a task force of both lactating mothers, management, and facilities managers who may determine a plan that meets the employee and employer needs. They will have to identify potential lactation room space, examine the current company policy procedures to see if amendments need to be made, train supervisors on accommodations within this law and promote the program throughout the company (and in the employee handbook) so that everyone is aware of your lactation room policies.

To arrange for a private legal consultation, call Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992 today. Our Missouri offices are located in St. Louis, and our California offices are located in San Diego and Riverside.

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