- A Texas Whataburger failed to provide reasonable downtime for an employee to express breast milk, the DOL said.
- When the breastfeeding mother left to express her milk, the company fired her, the DOL said.
- Employers must allow staff a reasonable time off to express milk for one year after the child is born.
A Whataburger restaurant in Texas fired a breastfeeding mother for leaving the site to express her breast milk, the Labor Department said.
The company-owned restaurant in Lubbock, Northwest Texas, failed to provide reasonable downtime for the employee to express her breast milk, the DOL said. And when she left the premises to express milk, the company fired her, the DOL said.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to provide staff with reasonable break times to express breast milk for their breastfed child for one year after the child’s birth.
“An employer cannot deny a covered employee a necessary pumping break,” the DOL said. Employers are also required to provide staff with a place to pump at work that is not a bathroom and is out of sight and safe from intrusion.
The DOL said that as a result of its investigation, Whataburger signed an enhanced compliance agreement stating it would provide FLSA training to all managers in the future and gave $900 in back wages and the same amount in damages to the worker.
“Depriving a breastfeeding mother of her right to express with enough down time to do so and then firing her is against the law,” said Evelyn Ortiz, district director of the wage and hour division. of the DOL in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A declaration.
“Employers must comply with all provisions of the FLSA, including the right of nursing mothers to request the time and space they need to express their milk without fear of reprisal.”
Whataburger did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, which was made outside of normal working hours. A spokesperson for the Texas burger chain told NBC affiliate KPRC that it has a company policy that “defends the right to time and privacy” for nursing mothers at work.
“While we are unable to comment on this particular situation, we are committed to supporting nursing mothers – and all parents – in their work-family balance,” the spokesperson added.