STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – An investigation found that nursing mothers working at a Stellantis plant in Sterling Heights were not provided adequate access to lactation rooms.
The U.S. Department of Labor launched an investigation after someone reported that an employee expressed breast milk on the factory floor after they were denied access to lactation rooms.
The plant had a policy requiring nursing mothers to submit a doctor’s note and the baby’s birth certificate to access lactation rooms. The requirements prevented the employee from expressing milk when needed, according to officials.
Investigators said a minimum of 19 nursing mothers shared access to four, one-person lactation rooms. The employees were forced to wait up to 20 minutes for an available room or they had to pump somewhere else, like a community shower area. Officials said the lack of adequate access to lactation rooms and the policy violated the rights of nursing mothers.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to pump breast milk for one year after the child’s birth as frequently as needed. Employers must provide a place for employees to pump that is not a bathroom. If the space is not solely dedicated for nursing, then it must be available whenever needed and be shielded from view and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.
The plant will create more lactation rooms and correct its break policy.
“The outcome of this investigation, and Stellantis’ changes at its Sterling Heights assembly plant will have a significant impact on current and future nursing mothers by removing barriers that make it difficult to balance their child’s nutritional needs with their workplace duties,” said Wage and Hour Division Director Timolin Mitchell in Detroit.
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