Though I am not a mother, I feel very strongly about the rights of women who are nursing (as most of you learned last year during our He Said/She Said discussion on breastfeeding in public). So I was very happy to learn that a section of the health care bill that passed last month guarantees the right to use a breast pump at work. According to The New York Times, Section 4207 of the bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to include the guarantee of “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk,” for nonexempt hourly workers, and also the stipulation that this be done in “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.”
Why is this such a big deal? Consider the story of Laura Walker, who filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission after her employer, Red Lobster in Evanston, Ind., did not allow her to pump at work, despite a note from her nurse explaining it was a medical need. Instead, as Kantor described it, she was ridiculed. Her hours were reduced, and co-workers jiggled empty milk containers at her.
Will this law make any difference at your workplace?