If you have given birth, you may be anxious about returning to work when your family leave expires. After all, it can be heart-wrenching to leave a newborn to resume job duties. You should not, however, worry about expressing breast milk at work.
Federal law requires most employers to provide ample time for new mothers to pump. Your employer should also give you a private place, which cannot be a bathroom, to do the task. If your manager punishes you for pumping or any pumping-related matter, he or she may be violating the law.
Retaliation is not legal
Retaliation happens when an employer takes adverse employment action against a worker because of a protected activity. Because federal law protects pumping at work, punishing you for requesting breaktime, asking for a private area, pumping milk or filing a complaint is unacceptable.
Retaliation may come in many forms
It is clearly unacceptable for your employer to fire you because of your need to pump. Unfortunately, retaliation is not always so easy to identify. Remember, any adverse employment action your employer takes against you may constitute illegal retaliation.
Here are some subtle signs of retaliation in the workplace:
- Moving you to an unideal schedule
- Excluding you from necessary meetings
- Refusing you training opportunities
- Restricting your job duties
- Denying you a promotion or raise
Documenting retaliatory behavior may help you prove a causal link between protected pumping and your employer's actions. Ultimately, though, if you suspect your employer is penalizing you for the pumping you must do at work, you likely need to act quickly to protect your career.