No Individual Enforcement of FLSA Lactation Breaks

A federal court in Iowa ruled that there is no private right of action for an employer’s denial of an employee’s rights under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  This amendment requires employers to provide employees who are nursing mothers reasonable break time and a private location to express breast milk.  The court noted that the employee’s only remedy to enforce her rights was to file a complaint with the Department of Labor, which has the power to investogate and assess fines against a noncompliant employer.

Although the court dismissed the employee’s claim that her employer failed to provide her a private place to express breast milk, the court refused to dismiss the employee’s claim that she was constructively discharged for complaining of the employer’s failure to adhere to this statutory obligation, finding that it fell within the FLSA’s retaliation provision.

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