Houses Passes Legislation Expanding Protections Afforded to Nursing Mothers in the Workplace

On October 22, 2021, in a 276-149 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections to Nursing Mothers or PUMP Act, expanding protections under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 for nursing mothers in the workplace.  The Affordable Care Act of 2010 had afforded protections to certain working and nursing mothers, but left out approximately 9 million people who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including agricultural workers, teachers, nurses, and airline employees.  
The chief author of the PUMP Act, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), said it would offer protections for as many as 9 million more people who weren’t covered by the 2010 law, by requiring employers with 25 or more employees to provide them with the time and private space to pump.

“Without these protections, nursing mothers face serious health consequences, including the risk of painful illness and the inability to continue to breast-feed,” Maloney said. “These basic protections would ensure that working moms who want to breast-feed can continue to do so and prevent nursing mothers from being singled out, ridiculed or fired.” 

Under the legislation, not only would the exemptions under the FLSA be eliminated, but nursing mothers could seek back pay and reinstatement if they are fired for requesting breaks to pump breast milk.  Additionally, the PUMP Act would require employers to pay employees for the time they spend on those breaks if they are not fully relieved of their duties. Employees must first notify an employer of their non-compliance with the accommodation requirements and allow at least 10 days for an employer to make changes before employees can take legal action.

Individuals who believe their employer has not adequately provided them with accommodations or has subjected them to workplace violations should seek legal counsel to analyze their potential claims. 

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About Camilo Burr

Camilo Burr is an associate at Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office. Camilo’s practice is focused on employment law and wage and hour class action litigation.

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