Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers

60 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019

See all articles by Liz Morris

Liz Morris

Center for WorkLife Law

Jessica Lee

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Joan Williams

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: January 1, 2019

Abstract

Due to the medical consensus that breastfeeding reduces major health risks to both babies and mothers, the United States is waging an ongoing struggle to improve breastfeeding duration rates. Yet legal protections for breastfeeding parents in the workplace have not kept pace with the U.S.’s public health goals. Based on a review of workplace breastfeeding legal cases from the last decade, an analysis of all federal and state workplace laws protecting breastfeeding workers including coverage statistics, and interviews with women who faced workplace discrimination, this report documents the anemic legal landscape of breastfeeding rights at work. Discrimination against breastfeeding workers often forces them to stop breastfeeding or lose their jobs, at a devastating cost to their families. Almost three-fourths of breastfeeding discrimination cases studied involved economic loss, and nearly two-thirds ended in job loss. The legal tools to prevent and respond to such discrimination are lacking in both efficacy and scope. The report offers policy solutions to fix the gaps in our patchwork of laws to protect breastfeeding workers.

Keywords: breastfeeding, discrimination, lactation, pregnancy, accommodations, workplace, bias, motherhood, legal rights, women, policy, gender

Suggested Citation

Morris, Liz and Lee, Jessica and Williams, Joan, Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers (January 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3341649 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3341649

Liz Morris (Contact Author)

Center for WorkLife Law ( email )

200 McAllister St
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Jessica Lee

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Joan Williams

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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