Just the Facts, Ma’am: DOL Issues Fact Sheets Advising Employees of Legal Rights

Employment Law Newsletter

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued two Fact Sheets to provide general information about employee rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Fact Sheet #73: Break time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA: This Fact Sheet provides information about an employer’s obligation to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth” as required by the 2010 amendments to the FLSA. Among other things, the Fact Sheet provides the following additional information about the law’s requirements:

  • Employees must be provided a place to express breast milk “other than a bathroom, [a place] that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the general public.” A private bathroom is not sufficient, but a temporary space created or converted into a place suitable for expressing milk when needed is, provided it meets the aforementioned privacy requirements.
  • The frequency and duration of the breaks required will vary.
  • Only employees covered by the FMLA are entitled to breaks – exempt employees need not be accommodated.
  • Employers with less than 50 employees – and thus not subject to the FLSA – need not comply with the break requirement if compliance would impose undue hardship.
  • Employees need not be compensated for the breaks, but if the employer provides compensated breaks for employees for other purposes, it must do so on the same basis for lactating employees.
  • The FLSA amendment does not preempt state laws that may provide greater protection to lactating employees.

A copy of the Fact Sheet is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm.

Fact Sheet # 77B: Protection for Individuals Under the FMLA: This Fact Sheet provides general information concerning the FMLA’s prohibition of retaliation against employees who exercise leave rights under the Act. The Fact Sheet explains that the FLSA prohibits an employer from i) interfering with, restraining or denying an employee’s exercise of FMLA rights; ii) discriminating or retaliating against an employee who exercises or attempt to exercise protected leave rights; or iii) discharging or discriminating against an individual, whether or not an employee, for opposing unlawful practices under the FMLA. In addition, the Fact Sheet warns that all persons, whether or not an employer, are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against any person, whether or not an employee, who has failed or otherwise participated in a charge or proceeding under the FMLA.

Finally, the Fact Sheet identifies employers covered by the FMLA (all employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or proceeding calendar year), explains the enforcement authority of the DOL, and advises of the two-year limitations period within which to bring a claim.

A copy of this fact sheet is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs77b.htm.

The issuance of these additional Fact Sheets is consistent with ongoing measures undertaken by the DOL aimed at highlighting employee awareness of statutory rights and strengthening the enforcement efforts of the Department.

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