During the 2017 General Assembly session, the Connecticut legislature amended the protections afforded pregnant employees.

Among other things, the new statute makes it unlawful:

  • To fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on such employer.
  • To limit, segregate or classify the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy.

A client recently asked what rules exist for employers with respect to employees who are breastfeeding.

That's an excellent question.

When the U.S. Congress passed the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Acts, they amended the Fair Labor Standards Act as well, requiring that employers provide additional breaks for nursing mothers to express breast milk.

The new law mandates "reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk."

These breaks may be taken by an employee who is breastfeeding as frequently as needed by that employee.

It's important to note that not every employer and employee is covered by this law.
Employers must also provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk."

It’s important to note that not every employer and employee is covered by this law.

Employers of fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply with the law if such compliance would impose a hardship for the employer.

However, multi-site employers with 50 or more employees are required to accommodate nursing employees even if each individual site employs only a handful of employees.

In addition, only nonexempt employees (generally those paid hourly) are covered by the law.

Important note: While short breaks of less than 20 minutes are compensable, nursing mothers do not have to be compensated during their nursing breaks, regardless of duration.

Author: Miguel Escalera is a partner at the labor and employment law firm Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Hartford.