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Nursing mothers in Tennessee and across the country have protected rights on the job under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other laws. While one mother recently won a $1.5 million jury verdict after facing harassment over nursing that forced her to stop breastfeeding, other nursing mothers continue to face serious problems on the job. One report indicates that lactating women are often denied time to take pumping breaks. When they do get breaks to pump, they are often directed to inappropriate, public or unsanitary spaces. In other cases, these women may face sexual harassment or inappropriate comments from other co-workers.

In addition, women who attempt to defend their right to nurse may face retaliation on the job. Lactating women at work often have to face difficult choices, despite the existence of legislation designed to protect them. If they stop pumping, their milk supply will dry up and they will need to formula feed, losing out on the benefits of nursing. By trying to keep up with a nursing schedule, their jobs may be at risk, putting their children’s future in an even more precarious position.

A report by [email protected] found that up to 66 percent of employees involved in workplace discrimination cases around lactation wound up losing their jobs. Even when they kept their jobs, 75 percent suffered a financial penalty for their insistence on their rights as nursing mothers. Nursing discrimination can take many forms, but includes outright denial of pumping time, dismissal for requesting nursing breaks or sexual comments about their breasts.

Women who face pregnancy or lactation discrimination in the workplace have rights. Employees who have been penalized for pumping on the job might consult with an employment law attorney about actions they can take to defend their rights and seek compensation.