Legislation regarding milk expression at work?

I am teaching an advanced clinical and was presented with the situation of a mother who must pump for an extremely allergic baby. Her employer says she cannot have breaks to pump. Is there any legislation in Florida that addresses this legal concern?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

I decided to check with an expert in this particular area. Elizabeth Baldwin, a nationally known attorney specializing in breastfeeding and the law comments,

"Florida's legislation states a woman can breastfeed her baby in any location she has the right to be. It does not address pumping. However, Florida's 1994 law set up a demonstration project to determine the feasibility of establishing breastfeeding support policies for state employees. I'm not sure what the status is.

Generally, mothers don't have a legal right to pump, but they also don't have a right to be discriminated against. Thus, if one employee is allowed to go out and smoke a cigarette, it would probably be discrimination to tell another employee that she cannot take the same break to pump.

Most mothers resolve employment situations not by demanding their rights, but by educating the employer on the benefits of breastfeeding, the current recommendations and any special circumstances that are involved (in this case, an allergic baby). By sharing studies that show how it benefits the employer as well as the mother and baby. By taking an "I'm sure we can work this out" attitude, rather than demanding her rights.

Contact local or state task forces (or even Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies) for information that may be targeted to the employment sector.

Mothers need help with any breastfeeding problems they may have on the job and need to look at how they can accomplish their goals within the framework of their individual work situation."

Since breastfeeding is vital to the health of the baby and health of the family, which directly impacts a mother's job performance, employers need to begin looking at how they can effectively support breastfeeding mothers within their company structure. Best wishes!

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