City, County complying with state laws protecting nursing mother

City, County complying with state laws protecting nursing mothers

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LUBBOCK -

Allegiance Behavioral Health Center in Plainview, also known as Inspirations, has been ordered to pay a former employee more than $20,000 over a labor dispute.

According to the lawsuit, the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying the employee a time and place to pump her breast milk. The mother was forced to go out in the parking lot to pump.

Breastfeeding, or pumping, is protected by both state and federal law. Since 2010, under a federal health care bill, all employers are required to give breaks for nursing. The state law, enacted in 2015, prohibits time limits for pumping and mandates a private area, other than a bathroom, for public employees.

Lacey Nobles, with the City of Lubbock, said since the law has been in effect, the city has complied.

When a mother needs to pump, Nobles said all employees need to do is ask. There is a key and a designated area.

"They know that it's a private time, and no one can get in and mess with them," she said.

Once they are finished, mothers can use a fridge solely for storing breast milk, she said. Nearby, there is a cleaning area for supplies.

"Leaving your baby is hard enough, but you also want to be able to provide for your baby even when you're in the workforce," Nobles said. "So it's very important for mothers to do what they feel is right for their child while still being a valuable employee."

While breastfeeding may have been taboo in the past to talk about, Nobles said it is important for mothers to know their rights.

"It's a normal, celebrated part of life and part of motherhood or parenthood, so why not talk about it," she said.

The break time does not take away from employees' other designated breaks, she said, so a mother is not deciding between feeding themselves or her child.

"So it just shows that the state and the city of Lubbock that we value all our employees and want them to have the good family work values," Nobles said.

County Judge Curtis Parrish emphasized the county uses a similar system and is in compliance.

While this state law does not apply to all companies, many in Texas are mother-friendly.

The federal law is similar. It requires employers to provide nursing mothers reasonable break times and a place free from intrusion.

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