2010's Affordable Care Act contained amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act that require employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees with reasonable unpaid breaks and a private location to express breast milk at work for the first year following childbirth. Last month, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the first federal appellate claim of violation of these new provisions.
In Miller v. Roche Surety and Casualty Co., Inc., the plaintiff alleged that her employer did not provide her with adequate time and space to express breast milk, and later terminated her in retaliation for her complaint about this treatment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the employer, largely based on the factual circumstances. The plaintiff could not prove that she was ever denied adequate time or space to express breast milk. She sent an email to her supervisor requesting this accommodation, but never complained about the company's response. Absent an actual complaint about her treatment, she could not claim retaliatory termination.
This case serves as a reminder for employers of the new breastfeeding accommodation requirements. Unless the company can demonstrate an undue hardship, covered employers must provide employees with facilities and breaks for this purpose.