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Breastfeeding Discrimination In The Workplace

Employment Discrimination Lawyer

Breastfeeding moms often face various forms of discrimination in the workplace, despite the fact that breastfeeding is a natural – and often essential – part of early motherhood. These discriminatory practices can create barriers for women who want to continue breastfeeding their babies while also pursuing their careers.

Yet, as an experienced employment discrimination lawyer – including those who practice at Hoyer Law Group, PLLC – can confirm, it isn’t always easy for nursing mothers to spot the kinds of conduct that are unlawful in nature. Some forms of discrimination are subtle and others are made to look like “business as usual.” These are a few of the issues that breastfeeding workers should be on the lookout for.

Lack of Accommodations

Many workplaces fail to provide appropriate accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. This includes the absence of designated lactation rooms or areas where women can comfortably and privately express breast milk. In some cases, the available facilities may be inadequate, unsanitary, or lack necessary equipment, such as outlets for breast pumps or refrigerators for milk storage.

Insufficient Break Time

Breastfeeding mothers require regular breaks to express milk, which is crucial for maintaining their milk supply and meeting a baby’s nutritional needs. However, some workplaces do not provide sufficient break time or enforce strict limitations on break duration, making it challenging for mothers to express milk as frequently as necessary. This can lead to discomfort, decreased milk production, and potential health issues for both the mother and the baby.

Negative Attitudes and Stigma

Breastfeeding mothers may encounter negative attitudes or stigma from coworkers or supervisors who view breastfeeding as inconvenient, unprofessional, or a disruption to work routines. These biases can result in verbal or nonverbal expressions of disapproval, creating a hostile or unsupportive work environment for breastfeeding mothers.

Career Advancement Challenges

Women who take extended breaks or reduce their working hours to accommodate breastfeeding may face career advancement challenges. They may be passed over for promotions, denied opportunities for professional development, or face biased evaluations that overlook their skills and contributions due to assumptions about their commitment or availability.

Lack of Policy Awareness or Support

Some workplaces lack clear policies and guidelines regarding breastfeeding and its accommodations. This can lead to confusion and inconsistent treatment of breastfeeding mothers. Additionally, the lack of awareness among employers and coworkers about the legal protections and rights afforded to breastfeeding mothers may contribute to discriminatory practices.

Discrimination During Job Interviews

Breastfeeding mothers may face discrimination during the job application process. Unlawful interview questions related to breastfeeding, pregnancy, or family planning can occur, leading to biased hiring decisions or an uncomfortable interview experience for the applicant.

Travel and Work Assignments

Jobs that require frequent travel or long hours away from home can pose significant challenges for breastfeeding mothers. They may be pressured to accept assignments that make it difficult to maintain their breastfeeding routine or to be away from their babies for extended periods. Conversely, they may be denied the opportunity to advance in their careers due to their breastfeeding status.

What Can Be Done?

Addressing these forms of discrimination requires a multi-faceted approach. It is essential for employers to implement policies that support breastfeeding mothers, provide adequate accommodations, and promote a positive and inclusive work culture. Furthermore, robust legislation and enforcement can protect breastfeeding moms from discrimination and ensure their rights are upheld in the workplace. Oftentimes, seeking legal guidance is the best way for breastfeeding mothers to begin pursuing justice after experiencing mistreatment in the workplace as a result of breastfeeding-related discrimination.