Nursing Mothers in the Workplace

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding mothers. Section 7 of the FLSA requires employers to provide “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.” 29 U.S.C. 207(r)(1)(A).


The “reasonable break time” required by the FLSA is a subjective standard. Break time is entirely dependent on the mother and her child. It could mean the employer needs to allow a break every two to three hours. As for the length of each break, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) guides employers that fifteen to twenty minutes will be required. However, the DOL provides factors that employers need to consider to determine the length needed for a nursing employee to express milk:


·      The time it takes to walk to and from the lactation space and the wait, if any, to use the space;

·      Whether the employee has to retrieve her pump and other supplies from another location;

·      Whether the employee will need to unpack and set up her own pump or if a pump is provided for her;

·      The efficiency of the pump used to express milk (employees using different pumps may require more or less time);

·      Whether there is a sink and running water nearby for the employee to use to wash her hands before pumping and to clean the pump attachments when she is done expressing milk, or what additional steps she will need to take to maintain the cleanliness of the pump attachments;

·      The time it takes for the employee to store her milk either in a refrigerator or personal cooler.

Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers, 75 FR 80073-01.


An employer is not required to compensate the employee receiving the break time to pump. It does, however, require the employer to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” 29 U.S.C. 207(r)(1)(B). 


The Federal law does not require States to enact a law affording greater protection than what the FLSA provides. 29 U.S.C. 207(r)(4). Arizona, in particular, does not have a law relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. Therefore, breastfeeding employees in Arizona are not covered by greater protection than the extent of the FLSA.  


While Arizona does not have a law pertaining to breastfeeding in the workplace, it does have laws on breastfeeding in general. Arizona has a law that excludes breastfeeding from public indecency. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann § 13-1402. Arizona also has a law that allows a mother to breastfeed in any public place or place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann § 41-1443. Therefore, if an employee wants to bring a claim in regards to breastfeeding in the workplace, they must do so under federal law.

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