A new study on breastfeeding discrimination reveals it is not only a health concern for women, but a financial concern as well. Researchers have long known about the health impact of breastfeeding discrimination in the workplace. When faced with discrimination, nursing mothers wean their children earlier than recommended, suffer from a diminished milk supply and may deal with painful infections.
Discrimination leads to job loss
But they were not aware of the serious financial impact. According to Fortune, the study found two-thirds of women who alleged breastfeeding discrimination lost their jobs over the last ten years. These women were either fired or forced to resign.
Employers may refuse to accommodate women
Breastfeeding discrimination can occur several ways. Employers may deny women breaks, fire women for requesting breaks or refuse to provide accommodations to pump. Other employees may also engage in sexual harassment regarding a woman’s breasts.
The study also found breastfeeding discrimination is most prevalent in male-dominated employment fields. While on 16 percent of women work in male-dominated fields, 43 percent of the breastfeeding discrimination cases occurred in these industries.
Financial impact can be long-lasting
The economic consequences go beyond just losing their jobs, women are also often not paid for taking breaks to pump and may be forced to work reduced hours. When women do lose their jobs, these consequences can be long-lasting because it can hurt their ability to advance their careers and earn higher incomes.
New Jersey has made breastfeeding discrimination illegal
Last January, New Jersey passed a law that protects women against breastfeeding discrimination in the workplace. According to the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee who is breastfeeding. It also requires that all New Jersey employers give workers break time to express milk.
Employees must also be provided a room or other location that is more than just a toilet stall. This private area needs to be close to where the woman works.
A mother that is facing breastfeeding discrimination in the workplace has the law on her side. If an employer refuses to accommodate you or tries to fire you for bringing up discriminatory practices, you can bring a discrimination case against them. You have the right to accommodation, and you should not let an employer make a lasting impact on your livelihood.