Other Work Issues Article

Nursing Laws and Work

Arizona employers are required to provide employees paid by the hour unpaid breaks to express, press out, breast milk for their nursing baby.  Employers must also provide a private place for the employee to express breast milk.

These employer obligations are explained in Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law.

Employee Rights
An employee who is paid an hourly wage is entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid break time as needed to express breast milk for up to one year after each baby’s birth.  The law does not define “a reasonable amount of time” and recognizes the length and frequency of the breaks will vary from employee to employee and may change over time for each employee. 

While the time taken to express milk is generally unpaid, if an employee expresses breast milk during a break that is normally a paid break the employee must receive pay for the break.

Employer Obligations
Employers must provide a private place for the employee to express breast milk. A bathroom, even if private, is not a permissible private place.  The private place must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the private place is not solely set aside for expressing breast milk, the private place must be available when needed.  A private place temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is okay if the private place is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public. 

An employer cannot discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee for filing a complaint or participating in any complaint or investigation about this law.

All employers with 50 or more employees must comply with this law.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees must comply with this law unless compliance would create an undue hardship.  Undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business.

What to do if you Feel Your Milk Expressing Rights are Violated 
If you believe your employer is not providing you with your right to express breast milk for your baby, review your employer’s pay policy to determine who you should speak to and arrange a meeting with that person.  Have a meeting with that person and explain why you feel you are not being given time or a proper place to express breast milk.  Give the employer as many specific facts as you have and listen to the employer’s explanation.

If, after speaking with your employer, you employer does not give your right to express milk you should contact the Wage and Hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor.  This is the contact information for the Arizona office.

Phoenix District Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
230 N. First Avenue, Suite 402
Phoenix, AZ 85003-1725

(602) 514-7100

You must file a complaint within two years from the last incident.  However, you have three years to file your complaint if your employer’s actions are a willful violation.
You may also file a private lawsuit in Federal or state court within two years from the last incident – three years if the violation is willful.  Individuals filing a private lawsuit should consult with and be represented by an attorney.

If you believe you were discharged or in any other manner discriminated against any filing a complaint or participating in any complaint or investigation about this law, you should also follow the complaint procedure is this section.

Additional Information
Here is a link to a DOL Fact Sheet about this expressing breast milk law - https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.pdf

Legal Correspondent: Dave Smith



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