It doesn’t surprise many to be told that many employers fail to offer appropriate accommodations for breastfeeding. Even though the failure to do so, poses a health risk (and headaches) for nursing employees. Yet a new study that is the first one of its kind if bringing more clarity to this invasive workplace issue. The damages actually extend to the livelihoods of the mothers. According to researchers, a shocking two-thirds of cases alleging breastfeeding discrimination in the past decade eventually led to the employee losing their job.
Even the researchers themselves were shocked at the results. If you want to learn more about this workplace issue, start by defining breastfeeding discrimination.
Types of Breastfeeding Discrimination:
· Denying break requests from employees who are in pain and/or leaking milk.
· Firing employees for asking for breaks in connection to breastfeeding.
· Refusing to provide privacy for employees who need to pump breast milk.
Sexual harassment of breastfeeding employees is also a common problem in the workplace.
Employers are supposed to provide breastfeeding employees with a clean place to pump (that is not a restroom), 15-20 minute breaks to pump breast milk, and a change in their job duties or a temporary assignment that accommodates their situation if it is necessary. For example, one of the study participants was a police officer who was unable to wear a bulletproof vest while she was breastfeeding. She was denied a temporary assignment to a desk job.
As a result of the predominantly negative perception of breastfeeding in the workplaces of America, working mothers are weaning their babies sooner than recommended by doctors, ending up with a diminished milk supply, or suffering from painful infections (a health risk that is often associated with lactation discrimination). The researchers went into the study aware of the health risks associated with the issue, but what really surprised them was the economic harm caused and the extent to which it pervaded the women’s lives. On top of the two-thirds of employees in breastfeeding discrimination cases who ended up losing their jobs (by being fired or forced to resign), three-quarters of the workers in the group experienced an economic penalty, such as reduced hours or being unpaid during their 15-20 minutes breaks for breastfeeding.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding discrimination or any other form of discrimination in the workplace, get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.