Rep. Maloney Introduces Legislation to Give Women Legal Protection Against Termination and Discrimination on the Job for Breastfeeding

Mar 8, 2000
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, joined by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, and moms who have been fired for breastfeeding on the job, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) announced that she has introduced the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendments of 2000. Maloney's bill clarifies the Pregnancy Discrimination Act civil rights law to protect women from job termination or workplace discrimination if they choose to breastfeed or express milk in the workplace.

"Fired for snoozing on the job? Fired for stealing from the company petty cash? Sure. But fired for breastfeeding?!" Maloney asked today. "It seems outrageous, but it's happening to women all over the country. Intimidated by what managers and bosses naively view as a risque practice, these top level honchos have been telling their new mom employees that using their own break time or lunch time for pumping breaks - even in closed door bathrooms - is not permissible.

"Women who choose to breastfeed have no choice about pumping milk during the day; they simply must express milk regularly," Maloney continued. "When women have stood their ground and told unrelenting bosses that, like it or not, they need to use a ten minute break once a day for pumping, these same women have had their pay and benefits docked, and even lost their jobs.

"It's simply not fair. While 50% of all new mothers are entering the workforce, and large numbers of women are choosing to breastfeed their children, women need protection from bosses who attempt to unfairly penalize these new-mom-employees for doing the most natural thing on earth: breastfeeding."

Since Congresswoman Maloney introduced her first bill to help women who choose to breastfeed, dozens of stories of firing and workplace discrimination have flooded into Maloney's office. Most women have been discriminated against in the work place because they attempt to use their breaks to express milk, or try to take a few extra minutes from their work day to provide the best nourishment for their newborn child.

That's why Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is introducing the new Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendments of 2000. The bill clarifies the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 to ensure that lactation is included as a condition "related to pregnancy" under civil rights law.

Maloney has also introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion and Employers' Tax Incentive Act (H.R. 1163), which provides a tax credit for employers who set up lactation rooms and/or provide equipment, and the Safe and Effective Breastpump Act (H.R. 3372), which requires the FDA to develop minimum standards for breast pumps.

Past Maloney legislation to expand WIC's breastfeeding promotion and education programs, and to allow breastfeeding on all federal property (Right to Breastfeed Act, H.R. 1848), have both been enacted into law.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that mothers breastfeed for at least one year after the birth of a child. Breast milk is known to be the first line of immunization defense. It helps protect against a host of childhood diseases like ear infections, juvenile diabetes, allergies, and other more serious illnesses, like meningitis, and lymphoma.

"Research has proven that breastfeeding improves health for both mother and child, improves IQ for a child, and strengthens a child's immunity systems. Breastfeeding is natural and healthy and no woman who elects to breastfeed her child should have to endure harassment.," Maloney said. "And an employer should have NO part in a woman's decision regarding her child's nutrition."

The bill was introduced on Wednesday, March 8. There are 13 original co-sponsors.

Congresswoman Maloney is the Democratic Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and is a steadfast advocate for the rights of women and children.