$3.8 million dollars. That’s what a Tucson, Arizona jury awarded to a former fire paramedic denied workplace accommodations required under the Fair Labor Standards Act for women who want to pump breast milk for their infants. Under the law, for the first year after the birth of a child, employers must provide non-exempt employees with reasonable breaks to pump. Employers also must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from the view of others and that is free from intrusion by coworkers or others.
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As you may know, I am a die-hard management lawyer. For example, I recently saw a production of J.B. Priestly’s, “An Inspector Calls.” The titular Inspector forces various members of a wealthy family in Edwardian England to examine their roles in putting a young woman on the path to suicide. In particular, the father had fired the young woman from his factory for being a labor agitator. I know I was supposed to sympathize with the young woman, but I frankly thought the father had behaved in an completely Baby Bottleunderstandable manner (although, of course, it would now be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act to do so). My husband told me, “Well, I guess you’re in the right profession.”

But every now and then, there is a case that just smacks of unfairness to me, even though it may be legally correct. Frederick v. State of New Hampshire was just such a case.

The employee’s new baby had difficulties with bottle feeding. In addition, the employee’s doctor provided a letter explaining that the employee should breastfeed as must as possible to minimize her anxiety disorder. In preparation for returning to work, the employee asked for either an extended break time to go to her baby’s nearby daycare center to breastfeed, or to have her baby brought to her and to be allowed to breastfeed her baby in the employer-provided lactation room.


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