Nursing mothers in Nevada and across the country will now receive extended protections to pump breast milk at work, thanks to a law President Biden signed into law late last year.
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act extends the right to pump breast milk to more workers and emphasizes the need for private spaces other than a bathroom to do so. Currently, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to pump for a nursing child up to one year after they are born.
The FLSA Protections for Employees to Pump Breast Milk at Work fact sheet provides general information on who is covered by the law and what is required of employers. The US Department of Labor also provides instructions on how to file a complaint if you believe your employer is violating federal labor laws.
“Employers must provide covered employees with space for functional pumping milk, such as a shielded area, free from intrusion and it should not be a bathroom,” said Susana Sánchez, Community Outreach & Resource Planning Specialist with the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in Las Vegas.
We conducted a brief interview with Sánchez about the PUMP Act. Keep reading to learn more:
The Nevadan: Susana, please tell us a little bit about women’s rights at work pertaining to the PUMP Act?
Susana Sánchez, DOL: Yes, the Pump Act is under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and this law covers workers that need break time to pump or extract breast milk during work hours at the workplace up to one year after the baby’s birth. That space should not be a bathroom; it should be a space free from intrusion, private, in a clean space that allows the mother to pump the milk, and it does not have a limit of time that these breaks should last, or how many breaks they should be, as long as they are reasonable to the mother’s needs.
The Nevadan: Susana, what do you say to women who are scared to ask for help. How can they be sure they are protected, especially if they are afraid to lose their job?
Susana Sánchez, DOL: The PUMP Act is a federal law, it covers most workers. As long as they meet the criteria under the law, it doesn’t matter their immigration status. If they do feel harassed or are scared to voice these rights that are afforded to them, I suggest trying to open up communication before you need those pump breaks — either before the baby comes or you foresee yourself needing breaks to pump milk. If your employer denies you break time or tells you that they will not be accommodating you under this law, then I suggest filing a complaint or at least calling us to get more information. Our phone number is (702) 928-1240. That is the Las Vegas District phone number for the Wage & Hour Division. Our District Office covers the entire state of Nevada, although this is federal law; so if you work in a state that is not under the district office of Las Vegas, you can still call us and we can either refer you to the appropriate office or take your complaint and send it to them.
I would just like to remind everyone—all the workers—that they have rights in this country, we do enforce them, we bring out investigations, we recover back wages as well for employees; so if you do feel that your rights are being violated, not just under the Pump Act, but if you just have doubts — then please do give us a call. Complaints are kept confidential and we do our best to try to get these issues resolved.
WATCH a TikTok video of our interview with Sánchez here.
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