An employee in Arizona recently filed suit against her employer for not providing a suitable space to pump breast milk while at work. The employee was assigned to various locations and some, but not all of those locations provided suitable spaces. In this Arizona case, some of the subject spaces merely needed a lock on the door to qualify as a suitable space.
Under federal law, employers are required to provide suitable spaces for nursing mothers, for up to one year after the birth of a child. A “suitable space” is a space that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and public, and cannot be a bathroom.
In order to avoid these suits, employer should ensure that lactating mothers are provided a “suitable space” in every location in which they are assigned. These spaces do not need to be used solely for these uses, but can accommodate other employee needs as well. Many employers choose to provide a “wellness room” for employees to accommodate various personal care needs of employees.