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By Louise Herman

Having a baby is a magical and exciting time in any parent’s life. However, returning to work after maternity leave can pose challenges for mothers. One issue many women face is needing to breastfeed or pump milk for their baby while at work. If you’re unsure what the law in Rhode Island says, you should keep reading. You will also learn how a Providence, Rhode Island sex discrimination lawyer can help you if your employer is treating you unfairly.

Am I Allowed to Breastfeed While At My Place of Employment?

When you return to work, you may be anxious about breastfeeding your child or pumping milk. However, Rhode Island law dictates that employers must allow breastfeeding employees unpaid, private break time to express milk for their child for one year after the child’s birth.

Your employer is not allowed to deny you the time or space to breastfeed, as this is protected by state and federal law, under Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What Does My Employer Need to Do?

Your employer needs to provide a reasonable amount of time for you to express milk, though they do not have to pay you for this break time. If possible, you should use any currently provided break time to pump.

Your employer must make a reasonable attempt at providing a private location, free from the intrusion of coworkers. This location cannot be a bathroom stall but a space with enough room and privacy for a breastfeeding worker to comfortably pump milk or feed her child.

Employers with less than 50 employees do not have to provide break time if doing so would pose “undue hardship,” or extreme financial strain, on the business due to its size.

Your health insurance through work must also cover training and assistance with breastfeeding.

What Should I Do If My Employer Won’t Let Me Breastfeed?

If your employer refuses to let you breastfeed, does not provide a sanitary, private location for you to pump, or requires you to stay late to make up for time spent pumping, you do not have to suffer in silence. As your employer is violating the terms and conditions of the FLSA, you are within your right to contact an attorney.

When you’re the victim of discrimination at work due to your sex, you should immediately reach out to an attorney. Just as you are protected under the law when pregnant, your employer cannot deny you the time or space necessary to express milk while at work.

If you’re facing discrimination, the Herman Law Group can help. Our experienced firm will examine the evidence and fight to ensure you receive the justice you deserve at the hands of an unfair and discriminatory employer.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.