A Teacher Said Her Boss Wouldn't Allow Breast Milk Pumping. Now Georgia Lawmakers Are Pushing a Bill.

The bill would mandate paid time and a sanitary space for pumping, and give employees the option for legal action if those needs are not met.

The bill would mandate paid time and a sanitary space for pumping, and give employees the option for legal action if those needs are not met. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Federal law requires employers to provide certain accommodations for breastfeeding women, but some careers, including teachers, aren't covered.

A Georgia lawmaker is seeking to require employers to provide nursing mothers time and space to express breast milk, provisions not afforded to all workers under current state law.

Right now, employers in Georgia can decide whether to support breastfeeding employees by providing break time and a space, other than a restroom, to pump breast milk throughout the day. The proposed measure mandates those provisions and adds anti-discrimination protections for breastfeeding mothers that allow them to seek legal recourse if their employer fails to comply with the changes.

Any time an employee uses to pump may “run concurrently with any other time for a break already provided to the employee,” but must be paid time, under the rules of the legislation.

Most nursing mothers are already guaranteed paid time and a sanitary place to pump breast milk under federal law, but those protections only extend to jobs covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which excludes a number of professions, such as teachers and nurses. A report by the Center for Worklife Law estimates that 9 million women of childbearing age aren't covered by the federal law.

“The gaps in the current state law mean that this kind of demand is currently allowed,” state Sen. Zahra Karinshak, a Democrat, said while introducing the bill last month. “These gaps must be closed.”

Karinshak, an attorney who breastfed both of her now-teenage children, learned about the gap in state law after a constituent emailed a radio show about her difficulties pumping at work. The woman, a public school teacher, expressed breast milk during her planning period, using a hands-free pump that allowed her to work at the same time. 

A female supervisor had permitted the arrangement, but when the teacher was reassigned to a male boss, he told her to stop, she said, “because there was no way for him to prove that I am working, because he cannot be in there to ‘make sure’ that I’m working while I pump.”

The teacher told The Bert Show that she spoke to human resources and was given two options: stop pumping at work or stay late after school to make up for the time she spent pumping during the day. She opted to stop pumping during the day, she wrote, which caused her milk supply to dwindle.

The radio show reached out to an employment lawyer, whose wife, also an attorney, works with Karinshak. She drafted the legislation—named Charlotte’s Law, after the teacher’s daughter—and introduced it in the Senate at the end of January.

Supporting working mothers is important for several reasons, Karinshak said in a radio interview. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of an infant’s life and as the main source of nutrition for a year, so providing space and time for mothers to express milk is in the best interest of children’s health. 

“Breast milk is the best food they can be having,” she said. “So why aren’t we doing what we can do best for our children?” 

Teachers, Karinshak added, are an especially important part of the workforce who should not be exempted by virtue of their profession.

“We talk about our teachers and how much we love our teachers and how much we want to support our teachers,” she said. “Well, put your money where your mouth is.”

The bill, sponsored by three Democrats and three Republicans, is awaiting a hearing before the Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor. Karinshak said she was optimistic that Gov. Brian Kemp would sign the bill if it passed, noting that the Republican had been instrumental in opening a lactation room near the state capitol for breastfeeding mothers.

“We are making this opportunity available for all women. We’re not going to have gaps,” she said. “Teachers are critical to our workforce, to our future, to our children. They really should have the opportunity to pump, and to do that without fear of retaliation.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: Conservative Indiana Adopted Needle Exchanges But Still Faces Local Resistance

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.