Seyfarth Synopsis: Some states are known for having high legal standards for employment rights and protection (Sie, California). The state of Georgia is not one of them. However, earlier this month the Peach State broke its shape by enacting one of the strictest lactation break laws in the country.

Since 2010, the Federal Act on Fair Labor Standards has stipulated that insured employers must provide hourly workers with an appropriate, unpaid break to express breast milk to a breastfeeding child up to one year after the birth of the child. The law also requires employers to provide their workers with a private place that is not a bathroom for those breaks. The FLSA lactation break requirement does not apply to employees.

While Georgia had previously enacted a law regulating lactation breaks in the workplace, the law made no requirements beyond the requirements of the FLSA. State law provided that an employer “may or may not grant a worker who must express breast milk” for her toddler “a lactation break. The law also stipulated that an employer “can make a reasonable effort, but is not required” to provide a place in close proximity to the work area other than a toilet cubicle for expressing breast milk.

In a move that has attracted the attention of employers across the state, Georgia ended its permissive approach to lactation breaks with the passage of HB 1090 on August 5, 2020, also known as “Charlotte’s Law” (named after a teacher whose supervisor she would not allow pumping during a break). The amended law, which is codified in Section 34-1-6 of the Georgia Code, makes several critical changes:

  1. Provision of the Opportunity for breastfeeding breaks is compulsory, not optional;
  2. Provision of a private place except a toilet Breast milk is to be expressed in privacy mandatory, not optional;
  3. The legally stipulated break time must be paid;;
  4. The The age of the child is not given;; and
  5. The right to breastfeeding extends to Employees.

The law applies to employees who want to express breast milk on the construction site and during working hours. Employers are not obliged to make this paid break time available to employees who work outside the construction site. In addition, the law prohibits employers from discriminating against or taking revenge on an employee for expressing or asking to express breast milk or reporting violations of the law.

The new law provides for an unreasonable exemption from hardship for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The exemption is only available if compliance would “create significant difficulty or cost when viewed in terms of size, financial resources, type or structure of the employer’s business”.

In addition to complying with the new law (which will take effect immediately), we encourage companies with employees in Georgia to review their break or breastfeeding mothers policies to ensure they are configured to encourage regulatory compliance. Please do not hesitate to contact us or your favorite Seyfarth attorney if you need any assistance.