A former employee at Meijer Inc. took aim at the retailer in June, 2016, levying allegations of sex discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The plaintiff claims in her complaint that Meijer failed to provide her with suitable accommodations to express her breast milk. As a result, she says she was forced to express her breast milk in a public restroom and a computer server room – the latter of which was equipped with a surveillance camera.
In Michigan, where the case occurred, various laws already in place ensure that nursing mothers in the workforce are treated fairly. A 1994 statute counsels that public nudity laws are inapplicable to a woman who breastfeeds, while a 2012 law exempts mothers from jury duty while they are still nursing a child. Additionally, a 2014 Michigan law prohibits discriminatory practices, policies, and customs with regard to breastfeeding.
New Jersey has no law ensuring a nursing mother’s right to express her breast milk in the workplace. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide a nursing mother with time to express breast milk during the work day for up to one year following the birth of a child. The FLSA further specifies that nursing mothers must not be relegated to a public restroom, and should instead be provided with a private space, shielded from view and free from intrusion.
The plaintiff began working at Meijer in 2013 as a part-time merchandise clerk. At the time she was hired, she had a three-month-old infant at home. According to the lawsuit, she informed her supervisors that she would require lactation breaks. She was told to use a conference room, but maintains that the room was frequently unavailable. She then resorted to expressing her breast milk in a public restroom and, later, a computer server room. Furthermore, she alleges that her pay was docked if she returned from a lactation break late.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Fight for the Rights of Breastfeeding Mothers
Returning to work after the birth of a child is a difficult time for all new moms, but even more so for moms who wish to continue breastfeeding. Where state laws have sometimes fallen short, federal law fills the void. Under the FLSA employers must take steps to allow employees to express their breast milk during the work day. If you or a loved one has been denied that right, the Cherry Hill employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. will help. Contact us online or call our Red Bank, New Jersey offices at 732-842-6500 or our Marlton, New Jersey offices at 856-985-9800.