Nursing mothers are not guaranteed the right to express breast milk in the location of their choosing, a December 26 federal appeals court ruling shows.
In Miller v. Roche Sur. & Cas. Co., +2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 26364 (11th Cir. Dec. 26, 2012), an employee claimed her employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because it refused to purchase window treatments for her office so she could express milk in private.
The FLSA requires employers to provide a place to express breast milk, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. +29 U.S.C. § 207 (r)(1); see Employee Compensation > Hours Worked > Breastfeeding Breaks.
The employer had made available vacant, nearby offices as a private location where the employee could express breast milk. The employee preferred to use her office, which was open to public view, and she taped manila folders to the windows for privacy. But because her office did not have a lock, she claimed that co-workers on at least two occasions walked in on her while she was expressing milk.
Otherwise, the employee was given the necessary breaks and had access to a private place. As a result, the district court concluded there was not enough evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the employer had violated the FLSA's breastfeeding breaks requirement. It granted the employer's motion for judgment as a matter of law.
The employee appealed, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's judgment. Its opinion is unpublished, meaning it is not a binding precedent but may be cited as a "persuasive authority" within the 11th Circuit, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia. +USCS Ct App 11th Cir, Cir R 36-2.
Establish Breastfeeding Breaks for Nursing Mothers