New Georgia law protects breastfeeding mothers in the workplace

Working mothers who want to return to work and pump breast milk after giving birth recently received increased legal protection when Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a law requiring employers to provide paid breastfeeding breaks and private locations in the workplace.

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The new law, known as the “Charlotte Law,” went into effect on August 11, 2020, and eliminates an employer's discretion over whether to allow or prohibit employees from taking time at work to express breast milk need.

How new state law works

Charlotte's Law was inspired by a public school teacher in Georgia who wanted to pump breast milk during one of her scheduled breaks. However, a supervisor told her she either had to stop pumping during recess or stay late after school to make up the time. The difficult decision prompted the state legislature to take action to protect a woman's right to express and express breast milk at work.

Under the new state law, an employer with one or more employees must provide adequate break time each day to allow a working mother to express breast milk to a nursing child (age 24 months or younger). In order for her to express milk undisturbed, the employer must provide a room or other location that (1) is not within a restroom and (2) is in close proximity to her work area.

The obligation to provide adequate break time for expressing breast milk is in addition to the employee's unpaid break time. However, the breastfeeding breaks can take place parallel to other breaks. In addition, the employer is not permitted to deduct or reduce breaks for expressing breast milk from an employee's wages.

Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against or retaliating against an employee for expressing or encouraging breast milk or for reporting violations of the law. Significantly, the law provides employees with private causes of action (or claims), including damages, attorneys' fees, filing fees, and reasonable costs, expressly including the costs of discovery (pretrial fact-finding) and copying of documents for violations of the law.

More comprehensive protection than FLSA provides

The Charlotte law provides broader protections for nursing working mothers than the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The FLSA requires covered employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time to an employee who is required to express breast milk for a breastfed baby for up to one year after the birth of the child.

The FLSA, as amended, also requires employers to provide employees with a place to express breast milk that is not a bathroom but is protected from the view of others and free from intruders from co-workers and the public. The law's breastfeeding protections apply only to non-exempt employees. Additionally, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply with the law if doing so would pose an undue hardship.

Ilene W. Berman is an attorney at Taylor English Duma LLP in Atlanta. You can reach her at