Employers Must Provide Adequate Space for Mothers to Breastfeed
The Affordable Care Act stipulates that eligible workplaces must provide reasonable accommodations for nursing mothers. This includes adequate lactation breaks and a locked room in which the mother can express milk. The ACA amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to grant these explicit protections for new mothers.
The subject is timely, as TD Bank is facing the first-ever collective action lawsuit regarding breastfeeding protections under the ACA. The collective action alleges that under TD Bank's nationwide policy, new mothers were not allowed adequate lactation breaks and were forced to use bathrooms or unlocked storage closets to express milk. In New York on November 12, a District Court judge denied TD Bank's motion to deny a collective action.
Collective actions under the FLSA and class-action lawsuits can be brought by a representative plaintiff on behalf of other, similarly situated employees who also allege illegal employment action. Businesses facing collective or class actions face significant potential liability if the plaintiffs are successful.
New laws can mean legal trouble for businesses
The ACA is still relatively new. Some employers may not realize the extent of the new worker protections now in force after health care reform. But amendments to the FLSA and other protections granted by the ACA are important, as the majority of women breastfeed newborns for at least some length of time after giving birth. Failing to allow mothers adequate time and space to breastfeed may lead to litigation.
Business wishing to avoid potential liability or who are facing litigation or arbitration under worker protections in the Affordable Care Act should contact McNamee Hosea, an experienced employment litigation firm in Maryland.