The many ways breastfeeding discrimination hurts working mothers

Employers in Tennessee and throughout the country are supposed to allow mothers to take time to breastfeed. Mothers who need to pump milk are generally entitled to breaks to do so in a private area. However, employers don't always provide accommodations to those who need them. In some cases, workers are terminated for complaining about breastfeeding discrimination in their workplaces. This can have many negative repercussions for female workers such as jeopardizing their financial security.

Those who breastfeed at work may be thought of as less than their colleagues as there tends to be a bias against mothers in the workplace. However, there are benefits for employers who protect workers who have young children. For instance, a happy employee is more likely to want to remain with a company and may take less sick time. That can result in a cost savings for employers as well as the ability to claim a moral high ground on the issue of protecting their female workers.

One study found that up to two-thirds of workers who brought up issues related to breastfeeding discrimination were terminated. This is because laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed are hard to enforce. The authors of the study say that a national law with no exceptions and quality enforcement mechanisms should be passed to resolve the problem.

Policies that have a disparate impact on an employee or group of employees are generally considered to be violations of employment law. Those who have been victims of disparate workplace policies may be entitled to compensation from their employers. Compensation might be available for back pay or the value of benefits lost because of improper termination. An attorney may help a worker pursue his or her case in court, through mediation or through arbitration.

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